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Criterion Review: Inside Llewyn Davis

January 26, 2016

By John Corrado

Inside Llewyn Davis Blu-rayLast week, Joel and Ethan Coen’s folk music masterpiece Inside Llewyn Davis was released on Blu-ray, through the Criterion Collection.  Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) is a folk singer drifting aimlessly through the burgeoning music scene of Greenwich Village in 1961, struggling to piece his broken life back together again, while trying to earn enough money to help his bitter friend Jean (Carey Muligan) pay for an abortion, and care for the orange cat that unwittingly becomes a companion on his journey.

The first of the Coen Brothers films to get the Criterion treatment, Inside Llewyn Davis is also one of their best works, blending filmmaking and music together in some really beautiful ways.  There is just so much hidden beneath the surface of the story, themes of depression and drifting through life that are amplified by a fascinatingly circular narrative structure, and a backdrop of starkly beautiful winter landscapes that provide a great visual metaphor for the struggles of the title character.

This was one of the absolute best movies of 2013, and it has only grown more resonant over the last few years.  With an excellent soundtrack produced by T Bone Burnett, and a brilliant performance by Oscar Isaac, who brings profound depth to his role and delivers haunting renditions of the film’s many classic folk songs, Inside Llewyn Davis is a bittersweet delight and masterpiece of melancholy feeling.  My original review of the film can be found right here.

The Blu-ray includes the 101 minute concert film Another Day, Another Time, an extended featurette on the making of the film, a newly recorded conversation with the Coen Brothers and T Bone Burnett, and commentary with authors Robert Christgau, David Hajdu and Sean Wilentz.  Perhaps most exciting for fans, the disc also has an invaluable conversation between the Coen Brothers and Guillermo Del Toro, talking about their evolution as artists.  The package includes an essay by film critic Kent Jones.

Inside Llewyn Davis is 104 minutes and rated 14A.

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