by Michael Fitzgerald
“Inside Llewyn Davis” is the new film from the Coen Brothers, and it does not disappoint. Starting in an espresso and smoke-filled lounge in Greenwich Village called the Gaslight Café in 1961, it follows the exploits of folk singer Llewyn Davis. His journey throughout the film echoes the random rambling of Kerouac combined with the rotten luck of Peter Parker.
The plot tends to meander—as life for a broke New Yorker might—but the soundtrack is so good there almost doesn’t have to be a plot. The protagonists’ performance is so entrancing you almost forget about the reality that hits hard at the end of a song; whether it’s a blankly-staring audience or a manager that tells you your stuff isn’t an income generator.
It’s a surreal delight to watch Justin Timberlake as a folk singer in his sparse role. That and John Goodman as a doddering old jazz musician.
Part of the fun of any Coen Bros. film is trying to crack their code of symbolism. Is there a reason why he was a jazz musician? What does the cat mean? The endless snowy roads leading to a disappointing trip to Chicago?
I’m sure film critics and scholars will have fun picking apart the scenes of this film for many days to come. To check it out while it’s still in theaters, check listings at local independent movie house, the Grand Cinema.