Down-on-luck singer steals show in Coen brothers Cannes film

Sun May 19, 2013 9:20am EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Alexandria Sage

CANNES (Reuters) - Folk music, Greenwich Village and a quick-footed cat star in the new Coen brothers movie at the Cannes film festival on Sunday, kicking off the first of five U.S. entries with its engaging misadventures of a struggling singer.

"Inside Llewyn Davis" by directing duo Ethan and Joel Coen is a delightful tale about the early 1960s folk music scene, a tribute to artists living hand to mouth, and an ode to New York all at once.

Told through the lens of its protagonist Llewyn, played by Oscar Isaac, the movie retains all the quick repartee and quirkiness of classic Coen brothers films such as "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?" and "Barton Fink", for which the pair won Cannes' top prize, the Palme d'Or in 1991.

But anchoring the film and providing a counterpoint to the whimsy is the soulful voice and deadpan of Isaac, whose character just cannot catch a break - from concert promoters, his agent, or his on-off lover Jean, played by Carey Mulligan.

"Everything you touch turns to shit. Like King Midas' idiot brother," Jean yells at Llewyn.

As if it is not enough to have no money, no job, and nowhere to live, Llewyn has also managed to lose a kindly older friend's orange cat and the chase scenes between man and feline through the miserable New York winter are among the film's highlights.

"The movie doesn't really have a plot. That concerned us at a certain point. Which is why we brought the cat in. It's really about the cat," Joel Coen joked before Sunday's premiere.

Drawing spontaneous applause from the critics at an advance screening on Saturday was a scene in which Llewyn plays back-up guitar for a friend, played by Justin Timberlake, during a recording session of a wonderfully absurd song about President John F. Kennedy and the U.S. space program.   Continued...

(L-R) Cast members Garrett Hedlund, Justin Timberlake, Carey Mulligan, directors Joel and Ethan Cohen, cast member Oscar Isaac, and musician T-Bone Burnett are pictured by journalists as they arrive to attend a news conference for the film 'Inside Llewyn Davis' during the 66th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes May 19, 2013. REUTERS/Yves Herman