When ShortList asked Joel and Ethan Coen how their new film Inside Llewyn Davis had come about, they said it was based on the idea of “a folk singer getting punched in an alleyway”. And lo, from such seeds do Coen brothers films grow.
The result is a thoughtful stroll through the Greenwich Village folk scene of 1961; a strange musical chasm with Elvis in the Army and The Beatles in The Cavern Club. In folk terms, it was post-Woody Guthrie and pre-Bob Dylan. The film follows jobbing singer-songwriter Llewyn Davis, played by Oscar Isaac, as he moves from gig to gig, sofa to sofa, including that of his duetting friends Jean (Carey Mulligan) and Jim (the beard-and-jumpered Justin Timberlake, with Isaac, in our exclusive picture above).
The film includes cameos from Coens’ stalwart John Goodman as a junkie jazz-friend and an almost silent Garrett Hedlund (of On The Road) as Goodman’s driver. But the film’s true star is the music: a mix of old and original songs, compiled by legendary producer T-Bone Burnett, with performances ranging from impressive competence to genuine beauty by the cast. Except for that cat in our other picture (left); he doesn’t sing. Nobody wants to hear that.
Inside Llewyn Davis is at cinemas from 24 January. The soundtrack is out now