Grade • A-
DVD • Imagine the Coen brothers’ “Inside Llewyn Davis” as a musical sketchbook, of a life still in progress. Living that life is Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac), a struggling singer and guitarist trying to make ends meet performing in New York’s Greenwich Village in 1961 — at the height of the folk-music explosion symbolized by the imminent arrival of Bob Dylan.
Llewyn is no Dylan, and his growing frustration pops out against his best friend Jim (Justin Timberlake), Jim’s wife Jean (Carey Mulligan), and the various roommates he meets while bouncing from couch to couch.
The Coens bring out the flavor of the Village folk scene with precise writing and a gorgeous soundtrack, while Isaac is heartbreakingly good as the brittle musician seeking artistic purity in an uncaring world.