Matt DeGroot’s review published on Letterboxd:
I really, really wanted to be head over heels in the love with this movie but when something is this dour, it is almost impossible to love.
Before I go any further I want to acknowledge that I realize not every movie needs a happy ending or a main character that becomes fully changed by his/her experiences but 'Inside Llewyn Davis' is missing those two things in such a massive way that it works to undo the things that I really did enjoy about the film.
For one, Oscar Isaac is amazing and a genuine treat to watch perform both musically and dramatically. He is in just about every frame of this movie and not once was I bored or irritated by him. It's a fantastic performance on every level and worthy of the award buzz he's been getting.
But Isaac's character, Llewyn, is so downtrodden as a struggling artist that this film almost feels like torture porn at certain points. Like the poor, unfortunate cats that he crosses paths with throughout the film, he just keeps limping on and coming back for more in a viscous cycle of torment that shows no prospect of ending.
The Coen Brothers fill this melancholy tale with beautiful folk music and have put it all together in a truly remarkable way, but a film this cold, this distant, and this joyless will never be a satisfying experience for me despite the many admirable traits I think it has. There is a chance that a little reflection time will change this for me, but for now I just tip my hat in honor of the great filmmaking skills on display and move on to seek out something more hopeful.