Mike Torchic’s review published on Letterboxd:
I'm a big fan of the Coen Brothers. While I wasn't the biggest fan of Hail, Caesar!, the big lebowski is one of my favorite movies of all time and have enjoyed everything else I've seen from them. Inside Llewyn Davis is a great film that is just shy of amazing.
The plot follows Llewyn Davis, a down on his luck folk musician. The film takes place in one week of his life in which their is a lot of misfortune. From losing a friends cat, to discovering that he may be a dad, his life is kinda shitty. He finds comfort in his music, with another plot line following him wanting to get a gig and sell his music. I really enjoyed the plot of this film. The Coen Brothers do it again, blending sadness and melancholy with some lighter moments, with John Goodman's character in particular. Some people can really relate to the character of Llewyn Davis and the things that happen to him. I did feel that the film kinda dragged a bit towards the middle, but it picked up after that. I liked the 60's aesthetic, the music in particular. The characters are really well developed, with my favorite being Llewyn Davis. He is everything a character should be in my opinion. He's down on his luck, desperate and above all, relateable. One thing I always look for in movies is a protagonist that is relatable in some way. Otherwise, you don't develop feelings to what happens to the character. I also really liked the character of Jean, an acquaintance of Llewin who just may be having his baby. She, like most of the characters in this film, is relatable and her story adds to the mostly bleak atmosphere of this film.
The cast is phenomenal, with Oscar Issac stealing the show. I really like how Issac makes you relate to him in almost every film he's in. I also enjoyed Carey Mulligan as Jean. I definitely like Mulligan in this film more than I did in Drive. In Drive, her character was very underdeveloped which prevented her from acting to her full extent. In this film, however, her character is given the right amount of development and she gives it her all in terms of performance. I felt that Garrett Hedlund and Adam Driver were underused, but at the Same time am glad that their stories didn't interfere with the main plot.
The writing and direction by the Coen brothers is outstanding. In terms of writing, they blend both melancholy and humor very well and do a great job at creating the 60's feel in the film. In terms of directing, the snowy atmosphere provides for some saddening moments and the 60's aesthetic is executed perfectly. The cinematography is gorgeous, with Bruno Delbonel doing a great job. My favorite scenes, in terms of cinematography, were the scenes in the snow and the road POV scenes.
The music was the best part about this film for me. It's all existing tracks sung live by the actors. Usually I'm not a fan of actors singing live on set, case in point Les Miserables 2012, but this time I think it was executed perfectly. I'm a fan of folk music so I feel that this film was perfect, at least musically, for me.
Overall, Inside Llewyn Davis is a great movie with only a few things preventing me from giving it a 5/5. Definitely check this out if you like folk music and the Coen Brothers!