Michal J.’s review published on Letterboxd:
Inside Llewyn Davis, directed by Ethan and Joel Coen, stars Oscar Isaac as the titular character, a folk singer without a home and down on his luck. The movie follows his part gloomy, part heart-warming adventure through the village of Greenwich and Chicago as he attempts to make a living playing folk music, and sort out his life and mind in the aftermath of his partners suicide.
I don't listen to folk music and I quite enjoyed this film, although I think anybody and everybody can even if they don't, this movie is thoughtfully and warmly layered and orchestrated and oh maw gawd it was beautiful. Oscar Isaac's portrayal here was down to earth and powerful, a performance worthy of Oscar consideration. He's constantly proving himself to me to be a top-notch actor of great talent; carrying a character study film on his shoulders is yet another reason to keep an eye out for his future works. Honestly, is Isaac's performance didn't hold up, or if he couldn't have sang and played the guitar, this movie could have flopped badly. The Coen Brothers have to be patted on the back for casting Oscar Isaac and Justin Timberlake in this movie, both of whom are musicians in addition to being actors; they spared no expense at getting actors who can actually sell a convincing performance and play music. Honourable mentions go out to John Goodman, who's brief appearance in the movie was lots of john Goodman goodness, Carey Mulligan for portraying a likeable and emotionally charged ex-girlfriend of Llewyn's, and Max Casella for being creepy as fuck. All in all, Inside Llewyn Davis has a powerful cast, lead actor, and music that all come together to produce a living and breathing film to admire.
This is definitely one of those movies that when I sat down to watch, it just... I don't know... didn't feel quite like a movie I have seen before? The entire mood, atmosphere, and aura to this movie was just so relaxed, so smooth, so down to earth that it.. I can't exactly explain it but it made the movie feel real and not like a movie. I couldn't help but keep thinking that all of the places and couches that Llewyn crashes at in the movie all just looked so darn comfortable and cosy to lay down in. The cinematography was extremely homely and I know it might sound super weird but it made me feel relaxed and comfortable, and I just adored the experience of watching this movie, it was atmospheric, it was touching, and it was very interesting.
Despite having a lot of things that stereotypically make up a boring movie, this film was anything but boring. It's story was dynamic yet strangely cyclical near the end, perhaps representing the cyclical nature of one's failures and successes, the cyclical nature of life as a whole, and, perhaps most importantly, the ultimate power of being able to break the cycle and change your life for the better once and for all. I found the cyclical, if not mirrored, events in some parts of the movie very powerful and very touching. If Llewyn's ending sentence at the end of the movie is not telling of a strong, emotional message than I don't know what is. I mean, Llewyn Davis is a tragic character; he doesn't have a home, he has an infrequent tendency to be angry and/or violent, he's a (implied) womanizer, his former music partner committed suicide, and he is a struggling musician. There are lots of parts in this movie where I sympathized with him, while a lot of times where I thought he was an asshole. But I think at the end of the day that was the point, the representation of one of a quintessential normal and every day character, a character that at the end of the day, is more like you and I than a movie character.
I loved this movie. I almost didn't give this film 5 stars because I feel extremely self-conscious about giving out that rating perhaps a bit too often as of late, but it would criminal to rob a movie such as this of the ranking it deserves; it's a captivating, emotional, interesting ride that has captivated me in a style and way I don't think another movie has quite yet. I wholly recommend this film to anyone and everyone for I think even people such as I who don't listen to folk music will appreciate this film to its fullest.