There is no questioning the fact that Joel and Ethan Coen have secured their chapter in the annals of filmmaking. Their command of comedy, irony, satire, interpersonal relationships and character is staggering. They may strike out on occasion but they always swing for the fence; this film is no exception.
Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) is a tortured artist. He is a gifted folk singer with limited appeal, an unsupportive family and dwindling funds. His days cycle through as he tries to collect royalties from an unhelpful agent, pay for his lover’s abortion, perform for tips and half-heartedly try to garner attention from the music industry. All the time Llewyn himself, still reeling from his singing partner’s suicide, doesn’t seem all that interested in stopping his downward spiral.
I honestly can’t tell you if I loved this movie or not, because frankly, I’m not sure I completely understood it. For such an introspective film there is something existential about it. I will say this: the acting is incredible. Oscar Isaac is so stunning in this role it’s hard to believe his talent has escaped notice thus far. His performance is beautifully nuanced and compelling—it’s so quietly spot on, he may not get any Oscar notice at all, and that’s a shame. The film itself is dark and flawed, but it’s worth seeing for Isaac’s performance alone… and of course the music. It’s an 8.