Jonathan White’s review published on Letterboxd:
A sailor adrift; no hand on the tiller.
I feel this describes not only Llewyn the character, but also Llewyn the film. This isn’t a criticism, but rather a feeling; the feeling of being lost. The feeling of being resigned. The feeling of bobbing on the waves with no shore in sight.
It takes a special level of mastery to create a character so pathetic yet sympathetic. These characters have been scattered through the Coen filmography: Larry Gopnic, Ed Tom Bell, Barton Fink. Characters who try with diminishing effort to realize their lives as they sink slowly away.
Although there are certainly ‘types’ of Coen films, there are no two in the same type exactly alike. It’s almost like, sitting in their playpen, they throw their creative blocks up in the air, and play with them how they land. Here, the genes of A Serious Man and Oh Brother Where Art Thou mingle.
Like Oh Brother, you can see the Coen’s care for the music, and the clear influence of T-Bone Burnett. This is especially evident on the wonderful re-imagining of the obscure protest son Please Mister Kennedy. Too bad the stodgy Academy rejected it for Best Original Song. It certainly is. You could probably argue that Inside Llewyn Davis is nothing more than an album of music videos glued together with a little nihilism. I think there’s something more; actually a great deal more .. I just can’t put my finger on it yet.
I just loved being taken along for the ride, even if it took me nowhere.