Friday, April 19, 2024

Joel and Ethan Coen: First Real Cannes Hit with “Llewyn Davis”


It took from Wednesday til tonight but we’ve finally seen the first great movie of Cannes. Joel and Ethan Coen’s Inside Llewyn Davis is just wonderful, a quirky massively likeable ode to folk music in Greenwich Village 1961. Oscar Isaac has a breakout role as the title character and may wind up with an Oscar (let the puns begin) nomination. Llewyn is the quintessential loser musician who’s so talented but will never catch a break himself. He’s so self involved he can’t get out of his own way and yet he’s incredibly sympathetic.

The supporting cast: Justin Timberlake and Carey Mulligan are his married pals, a folk duo named Jim and Jean. Mulligan is a no brainer–she’s good here as always. Timberlake is extremely endearing and funny in his limited role. John Goodman and Garrett Hedlund have extended cameos that may unintentionally send up On the Road–which Hedlund starred in last year.  Great to see Robin Bartlett, too, and Max Casella. There are als one or two scene stealing orange tabby cats.

The music–curated by T Bone Burnett– is perfect, mostly old folk songs reworked and played and sung by Isaac so sensationally people may forget he’s a serious actor and not a pop star.

In the end though it’s the Coens. they’ve been at this almost flawlessly for 30 years. Remember “Blood Simple”? What a ride it’s been. Their fans will rank this among their best, a little like A Serious Man, with elements of Barton Fink. But it’s also far more accessible. A few times tonight I checked my watch– not because I was getting fidgety but because I didn’t want Llewyn Davis to end. Expect big things when it’s released December 6th.

more to come….

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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