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Centrepiece Gala

Supported by The Mayor of London

Inside Llewyn Davis

The Coen brothers’ funny, melancholic elegy to early 1960s folk music is as cinematically nimble as it is musically rich.

Inside Llewyn Davis

  • Director-Screenwriters Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
  • Producers Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
  • With Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake, John Goodman
  • USA 2013
  • 105 mins
  • PG
  • UK distribution STUDIOCANAL

The Coen brothers’ funny, melancholic elegy to early 1960s folk music is as cinematically nimble as it is musically rich. Shambolic and self-absorbed, Llewyn (Oscar Isaac) is a penniless musician trying to make it as a solo artist. Roughing it on the couches of barely sympathetic friends, he scores the occasional gig at a bar in Greenwich Village but struggles to break through despite earlier success with his former musical partner Mike. Things go from hapless to hopeless when Llewyn loses the beloved marmalade cat of a couple he crashes with and discovers that his fling with married songstress Jean (Carey Mulligan) has resulted in a very unwanted pregnancy. Deliciously playful but never irreverent, this is the Coens working on the intimate scale of A Serious Man, in the thematic territory of Barton Fink and with the musical veracity and inventiveness of O Brother, Where Art Thou? (T-Bone Burnett is music producer again here, working with Marcus Mumford). Punctuated throughout with terrifically memorable characters (the splendid cast includes John Goodman and Justin Timberlake), Inside Llewyn Davis riffs on the traditional biopic, creating a fictional reality that is coherent and honest in its portrayal of creative vulnerability and hubris, and that is heartfelt in its love for the era and its sounds.

Clare Stewart

Read the Time Out review.

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