Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) is a typically flawed protagonist in the Coen Brothers mold. A Folk singer of some relative note, Davis is arrogant (but not oppressively so), modestly talented and stubbornly oblivious to the feelings of those around him. He can only feel his own pain and suffering — the cruel fog of fate obscures his vision and senses. He lives on the couches and off the kindness of cohorts (like Carey Mulligan and Justin Timberlake as a singing/songwriting couple caught up inside Davis’s flakey funk) who undoubtedly would rather be strangers to him because one wonders how much longer they, otherwise, would be willing to put up with his tossed off affronts.
For Inside Llewyn Davis, the Coens open up a weeklong window into his disastrous affairs, but the small kernel of hope that exists comes from the music that Davis makes. He’s a folkie in the waning days of the form — the world of Rock is ready to plug in any day now — but thanks to the wonderful songwriting of Coens collaborator T Bone Burnett and the understated voice of Isaac, a Julliard-trained musician, we are willing to suffer along with him for a spell. Inside Llewyn Davis is a minor-key track from Joel and Ethan Coen that will, one day, sparkle like a hidden gem. (R) Grade: B+