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Inside Llewyn Davis


Stars: Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, John Goodman, Garrett Hedlund, F. Murray Abraham, Justin Timberlake, Ethan Phillips, Robin Bartlett, Max Casella, Jerry Grayson, Jeanine Serralles, Adam Driver, Stark Sands, Alex Karpovsky, Helen Hong

Director: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen

Advertisements for Inside Llewyn Davis proudly proclaim this automatically-bound-to-be-overrated offering as being from the people who brought you No Country for Old Men and True Grit.

However, since the celebrated filmmakers who are bringing you this tedious, near plotless saga of an aspiring folk singer in Greenwich Village in 1961 are the Coen Brothers, ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’ is surely destined to be hailed as yet another masterpiece.

Cineastes forget and forgive anything and everything when idols are involved.

And so it’s extremely unlikely that anyone would be crass enough to mention that the brothers were also responsible for the truly abominable remake of the Ealing classic The Ladykillers.

So not everything the Coens touch turns to cinematic gold.

It doesn’t matter, though.

To judge from the avalanche of critical praise that's been and being hurled at Inside Llewyn Davis, if (to put it crudely and I apologise for doing so) the Brothers Coen were violently to break wind in a lift packed with cieneastes and show business movers and shakers, they would be applauded to the skies and given awards.

So what did I get from sitting through the writer-directors' tedious tale of singer-songwriter Oscar Isaac’s miserable week of seeking work, sleeping where he can and – the best thing on offer – searching for a missing cat which goes on the run when he inadvertently lets it out of its home apartment?

The answer is simple. A beautifully wrought piece of filmmaking as you would expect from the Coens, and featuring atmospheric cinematography by Oscar-nominated Bruno Delbonne, especially of the wintry New York locations.

But there is little in the way of a holding storyline.

The best thing on offer Isaac’s fine performance, all the more impressive in view of the emaciated material he has to work with, and John Goodman, splendid as ever in a comic cameo.

Fans of folk songs are well catered for and there are competent if unmemorable contributions from Justin Timberlake and Carey Mulligan.

If you are a Coen worshipper, then you will have to see this if for no other reason than the need to be a completist. Otherwise, why not save your money and rent a DVD of No Country for Old Men instead?

Alan Frank

USA/France 2014. UK Distributor: StudioCanal. Technicolor.
104 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 2, Swearing 2.

Review date: 19 Jan 2014