Very few films have a perfect title. But “Inside Llewyn Davis” captures the journey that Joel and Ethan Coen take you on. You’re immediately thrust into watching and listening to Oscar Isaac, who gives a beautiful performance, perform the opening song, effortlessly expressing so many things about his character and his journey. It’s rare that a film about music tells you the story through its music, as this film does, all recorded live.
To see Llewyn watch the talented army musician perform while he himself sits next to Justin Timberlake, who’s most appreciative, and watch his own recognition of the guy’s talent on stage, and see his competitiveness and jealousy welling up, is not only revealing, but captures the essence of so many creative artists who are confronted with someone who’s just as good, if not better.
Watching the trio of Isaac, Adam Driver and Timberlake perform the complete song of “Please Mister Kennedy” is a perfect example of high comedy done through precision of music. It’s a great treat. And finally watching Llewyn audition for F. Murray Abraham, the man who holds his future in his hands — the simplicity of the staging and the complexity of what goes on between them is not easily forgotten. Llewyn, who is now a soloist, will always remain one.
The theme of being talented, irresponsible and even somewhat of a jerk, but always remaining out of reach of commercial success is perfectly calibrated. It brought memories rushing back to me, of all my uncles who were musicians, coming to stay with us, full of personality, fun, and always on the lookout for a handout.
The film doesn’t manipulate you or ask you to feel a certain way about the guy. It just takes you somewhere you haven’t been before: inside Llewyn Davis.
Turturro’s latest film is “Fading Gigolo,” starring himself alongside Woody Allen, Sharon Stone, Sofia Vergara, Vanessa Paradis and Liev Schreiber.