Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) is trying to make it in the NYC folk scene in 1961. He has considerable talent but not quite enough.
Llewyn was once part of a duo but his singing partner jumped off the George Washington Bridge so now he is a solo act. He is broke and crashes various pads to sleep and eat. He has friends who try to be supportive but he doesn’t listen to any of their advice.
Llweyn is self-defeating from the start of the movie until the end, which for me at times made it painful to watch. Although he may have survivor’s guilt about his singing partner, he probably wasn’t the beacon of mental health before that happened either.
Written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen it’s a good movie but not in their top 5.
The best thing about the film is the terrific soundtrack with great folk and blues songs. Everyone in the film sings their own songs, including Carey Mulligan and Justin Timberlake (a folk duo-Jean and Jim) who are a thinly disguised Paul and Mary. Llweyn is offered the chance to be the third in the trio (Peter) by a very successful agent but he blows him off.
The are some interesting sub-themes, such as how long do you chase a dream (symbolized by an orange cat that keeps getting lost), should you do what you love even if you are not that great or do something practical and lose a piece of your soul, and what a huge role luck plays in life, among others.
If you like the Coen brothers (which I do) definitely see it, but it’s no Fargo.