Inside Llewyn Davis

 (1,929)
7.51 h 44 min2013X-RayR
Inside Llewyn Davis follows a young folk singer as he navigates the Greenwich Village folk scene of 1961. Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) is struggling to make it as a musician against seemling insurmountable obstacles - some of them of his own making.
Directors
Joel CoenEthan Coen
Starring
Oscar IsaacCarey MulliganJohn Goodman
Genres
DramaComedy
Subtitles
English [CC]
Audio languages
English
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Supporting actors
Garrett HedlundF. Murray AbrahamJustin Timberlake
Producers
Scott RudinEthan CoenJoel CoenRobert GrafOlivier CoursonRon Halpern
Studio
Paramount Pictures
Rating
R (Restricted)
Content advisory
Alcohol usefoul languagesexual contentsmokingsubstance useviolence
Purchase rights
Stream instantly Details
Format
Prime Video (streaming online video)
Devices
Available to watch on supported devices

Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

1929 global ratings

  1. 62% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 14% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 8% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 8% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 8% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

ColodudeReviewed in the United States on December 22, 2016
5.0 out of 5 stars
Learning to Live with Our Losses
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This is a masterpiece from master filmmakers. Like most Coen Brothers vehicles, the "context" is more of a pretext for a different text. "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" was not a film based on Homer's Odyssey, except in the most contorted way. Likewise, "Inside Llewyn Davis" is not about Dave Van Ronk, or even the pre-Dylan folk music scene, except as pretext. It is a film about living with grief and the loss of innocence, both as an individual and as a society. On the individual level, Llewyn Davis is dealing with multiple levels of grief - the suicide of his partner and the decline of his father, among others. His feelings and actions can only be understood in terms of these losses. Similarly, the Coen Brothers have set the film in the midst of the last wave of American innocence before the JFK assassination, Vietnam, Watergate and the rest. Like Llewyn Davis, we have had to learn to live with our losses, and find our peace at the end of our journey (another common CB theme). The writing, acting, music, cinematography, and overall direction are outstanding. It's not a "feel-good movie," but then again, these are not "feel good times." Perfection.
115 people found this helpful
PeterReviewed in the United States on December 30, 2018
4.0 out of 5 stars
This man's life feels real
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Some of these reviews say this film is a masterpiece. I don't know enough about film making to say such a thing.

But what I do know is life. Pain, joy, confusion, frustration, relief. And this film has that. I don't think there is some grand message or tagline the film wants you to leave with. Instead, it shows the cycle of life. A shred of hope, which is lost in collision with painful memories. Friendships which feel great at times and bitter at others. And all the while trying to stay afloat when the world is clearly not designed for you.

I can't say this is one of my favorite movies, but it's a movie worth watching, and a depiction of a life worth internalizing. Every good story has a lesson to teach, and this is no exception.
33 people found this helpful
DavePReviewed in the United States on November 22, 2020
2.0 out of 5 stars
Studio acoustics in a coffee house
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In 1961 Charles Mingus did a studio album entitled, Charles Mingus Presents Charles Mingus. He opens the album by speaking as though he is in a live jazz setting, where he is instructing the audience in how to behave. 'no clinking your ice in your glass, no talking while music is playing, no cash registers clanging, no clapping until I tell you we're finished, etc.' I was 14 in 1961 and I grew up listening to rock and roll and folk music. Folk was big then, it was hip, in Greenwich Village it emerged out of the beat culture. The folk/hippy culture did not create itself. But there is no sense of the times in this movie. And because of that it is sterile, empty. The characters don't even talk about the scene. And the music is way too good. It sounds like the music of people who have had 60 years to assimilate all the versions of the classic songs (and every one was a major hit at one time or another, such that I could sing along though I haven't listened to that music for 50 years) then add something of their own to these classics, so they are actually better than the originals. And it doesn't even sound like live music. They don't show how hard it is to keep playing when people are talking loud, laughing at something else, maybe even insulting the performance. It is studio music, not coffee house music. And it is just some generic city, not Greenwich Village in the '60s. Still I am giving it the second star, because I quit on the movie and went to look up some of the old songs, the original versions, and listened to them again. There are also many live on YouTube, though they are mostly later concerts long after the original recordings. They didn't make live folk albums the way they made live jazz albums, so you can't hear what coffee house music really sounded like. But listen to Bill Evans and Scott LaFaro in 'Waltz for Debbie' and 'Live at the Village Vanguard' - both recorded in 1961. Evans had a soft gentle sound on piano. But what made him special was his ability to play quiet with intensity. So that will give some idea of how a folk singer would fare in that environment. And why it was so hard to "make it".
8 people found this helpful
whallkieReviewed in the United States on April 30, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
Beautiful film, one of the Coen bros best
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It's gotta be one of their best--the Coen brothers. Such a great film, one of my favorites now in a list I'll never keep track of.

If you love the bros, then this is it right here. Consistent with everything else they've done done, a stand out piece I would say.

If you appreciate the 1960s in a historical, cultural, social, and whatever else aspect, this movie is a goldmine of those things. A period piece that really covers an under-covered time and place in history--specifically, the folk culture of the early '60s.

If you love folk, there is a plethora of some great songs and performances, beautiful stuff.

God, the story is so well crafted and the dialogue so stark and understated and brilliant. I'd like to write a lengthy review, but this is not the place for it. And the camera, the way the Coens guide it and the way they cut, is superb. I know there is no explanation for why their technique is so good here, but I have not the ability to comprehensively verbalize it, especially after just watching it.

I hope you take this advice if you're pondering watching the film. Watch it. I don't remember ever feeling this involved with a film before.

The Coen brothers are great filmmakers, and I hope someday all of their films, not just the obvious/famous ones, but all of them are appreciated to the extent they should be--especially this one.

If you're going to watch it on Amazon Video, go ahead. But I'd also recommend getting a DVD copy if you liked it enough after watching, for the DVD resolution will bring new light to the Coen brother's film, as it will for many good films. Specifically speaking, it will bring new light to the light, meaning the Coen brother's lighting choices made which were fascinating and original in this film--at least I assume it will; I have only seen the Amazon Video version, but I do plan on buying a DVD eventually.

Another thing: this movie is very funny. It is subtle, but if you get the references, many of them related to the time period the movie is set in, you may find yourself cracking up. This movie is a true dark comedy and very Coenesque (what else would it be?).

Warning: this movie is bleak, barren, stark, depressing, cold. But it is, in my opinion, a masterpiece, although it's always best not to be too quick to judge. And there is always light at the end of the tunnel, we can hope.

Hope you watch the movie and enjoy it.
31 people found this helpful
Kaley QuinnReviewed in the United States on January 20, 2017
3.0 out of 5 stars
A bit slow but still worth a look
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Admittedly, this movie was a little slow and meandering. It's really more a character study then a movie with a real plot. Still, I did enjoy it. I liked the music (Oscar Isaac does his own singing in the movie). Justin Timberlake played a singer as well, but he wasn't in the movie very much.

This movie has a depiction of one of the worst road trips ever (from NYC to Chicago in winter) with John Goodman's character being the last person you'd ever want to be on a road trip with.

The character of Llewyn Davis is not always likable, but still you want to see him succeed because he is talented. I enjoyed seeing this glimpse into the life of a struggling musician and a time period from before I was born. For every Paul Simon or Bob Dylan, there were those folk musicians just of the edge of success, struggling to make it. It gives a good idea what it means to live and sacrifice for your art.
19 people found this helpful
JCY 500Reviewed in the United States on January 13, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
Village folkies early '60s
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I can't say I've always been a fan of the Brothers Coen. I could barely get through a viewing of Fargo. The premise of Barton Fink - the virtuous writer in crass Hollywood - held some promise, but wasn't well consummated. Their recent films - among them The Big Lebowski, No Country for Old Men, A Serious Man, and now Inside Llewyn Davis, have turned me around. I now believe that the brothers could entertain any theme, any point in time. As a Dylan fan, their recreation of Greenwich Village early '60s has a special resonance. All of the characters are well cast and superbly written. A special tip of the hat to Oscar Isaac in the lead role, and Carey Mulligan as a fellow folk singer and sometime girlfriend. Everything in the story rings true. Their choice of a subdued color palette helps to reinforce the look back to that era. Congrats to all involved. Truly one to watch over and over, as I have.
18 people found this helpful
Smythe Reviewed in the United States on June 16, 2020
2.0 out of 5 stars
A disappointment.
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I didn't go into this film with great expectations, because Hollywood - Coen Bros. or not - rarely hits the mark with period pictures. It always boils down to the tone being wrong. Nevertheless, Inside Llewyn Davis turned out to be a real drag. There is little of the grand bohemian zest for life you read about in Dave Van Ronk's memoirs, "The Mayor Of MacDougal Street," for which this film is supposed to be based, albeit "loosely". Furthermore, the problem with making a film about 60's folk singers is nobody sings that way anymore. Now everybody just sings in the same homogenized pop style. It's ironic that Justin Timberlake plays a role in this film; everyone in the film sings like him. It's uniformly boring. Van Ronk's vocals had immense textural variation; from gruff grit to delicate whisper, he was a real artist. Misrepresented music aside, considering how richly unique Van Ronk's life was, and considering the gloriously colorful world he beautifully describes in his book, you'd think filmmakers as talented as the Coen Bros would've at least been able to put together a cohesively entertaining story. Sadly, no. The utterly drab atmosphere and vibe, (which much more resembles the world we live in now,) just doesn't deliver the goods. Two stars for John Goodman and F. Murray Abraham.
5 people found this helpful
Christina ReynoldsReviewed in the United States on March 15, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
Excellent performance by Isaac, especially
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My rating is more of a 4.5
Thanks for reading!

𝑰𝒇 𝒊𝒕 𝒘𝒂𝒔 𝒏𝒆𝒗𝒆𝒓 𝒏𝒆𝒘, 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒊𝒕 𝒏𝒆𝒗𝒆𝒓 𝒈𝒆𝒕𝒔 𝒐𝒍𝒅, 𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒏 𝒊𝒕'𝒔 𝒂 𝒇𝒐𝒍𝒌 𝒔𝒐𝒏𝒈.

Inside Llewyn Davis is a 2013 black comedy-drama film written, directed, produced, and edited by Joel and Ethan Coen. Set in 1961, the film follows one week in the life of Llewyn Davis, played by Oscar Isaac in his breakthrough role, a folk singer struggling to achieve musical success while keeping his life in order. The supporting cast includes Carey Mulligan, John Goodman, Garrett Hedlund, F. Murray Abraham, Justin Timberlake and Adam Driver.

Undoubtedly , ‘ILD’ strongest aspect is its gorgeously balanced cinematography; a mix of browns, dirty whites, and muted colors create scenery that is compellingly visceral. The feelings and stench of loneliness are endlessly protracted when performances and other elements reach the point of a plateau. Llewyn - organically and intentionally surrounded by a wall of melancholy and confusion - is so successfully presented as one that is weighed down buy some amount of depression without being needlessly self-deprecating or obnoxiously pitiful

Speaking of performances - it's no mystery as to how the role of Llewyn Davis came to be Oscar Isaacs’ breakout role; prior to this film being produced Isaac had approximately 10 years of public performances already under his belt and he had known how to play the guitar for approximately 20 (and, fun fact, he has also been in a slew of bands himself). As a consequence of this something innately magical occurs in scenes where he is singing or performing to some extent live: the divinity of his soul and emotional capacity freely make an appearance that leaves a lasting and powerful impression on audience members. Centered by the influence of its lead (but not overpowered), the presence of other performances are peppered throughout in appropriate doses and contribute to a story that is well-rounded and realisticly sound.

‘ILD’s seemingly biographical demeanor isn’t entirely coincidental. Davis himself has been confirmed as a completely fictional character, but much of his story is based on that of Dave Van Ronk (an important figure in the revival of the American folk music scene in the 60s). More specifically, inspired by a memoir about Ronk entitled ‘The Mayor of MacDougal Street’,‘ILD’ is shot on location and features areas that have otherwise fallen victim to the grasps of modernity and a period of time that exists solely in the memory of its viewers by means of a wistful nostalgia. Some references intended to penetrate a period of time defined by folk music like one in which a young Bob Dylan goes unnamed may go over the heads of some audience members, but it's obvious that the heart of ‘ILD’ is always in the right place.

Nonetheless - it is difficult to ignore the lack of exposition that confounds the perception of LD as a character; with the exception of information relevant to his current situation (for the lack of spoiling, a great loss of his is revealed), it is hard to read and infer where Davis comes from both literally and metaphorically. Perhaps an even weirder observation to make: but at times I would also go as far to say that the misfortune of other characters is used to muddle what could otherwise be relatively stable and supportive relationships. I find myself wondering more about the nature of the connections he regularly makes with other people, but it is easy to want more as a viewer than what is deserved or defined by obscurity.

There is, however, an advantage to revealing so little about a character that feels so innately personable. I notice something ironic about the title in that many of the interactions Davis has with others are complicated by refusal to show an inkling of vulnerability when the opportunities theoretically present themselves. We can only wonder about the influence of pride. We can only wonder about the influence of hopewell revelations held together by naivety, potential obligations, and guilt (and this is especially the case when we consider the trauma associated with his aforementioned loss).
And while we know so little about who Davis is, Perhaps it is more important that we know who Davis is not.
A quitter? Never.
Flawless? Not a chance in the world

‘ILD’ has no interest in reaching emotionally jarring points of view, but instead remains focused on a life stitched together by happenchance and a bombardment of subdued farewells.
I would recommend
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