Llewyn Davis is just trying to make a living as a folk musician. He was part of a duo that did well enough, but now he’s a solo artist who doesn’t even have his own place to live in NYC. A bad night at one of his regular clubs leads to a whole lot of broken relationships that slowly pull any semblance of stability apart.
The Coen Brothers have created a musical character study through the language of 1960s folk. Inside Llewyn Davis comments on the arbitrary nature of success in the music industry through Llewyn and his contemporaries. Is there any reason the nice young military man is considered such a gifted performer while Llewyn, playing and singing just as well, leaves audiences cold? What explains the popularity of Jean and Jim when other folk groups, small and large, can barely get an audience into the same club space? Every folk musician in the film is talented and performs music that really starts to blur together. There’s no logical way to explain how the interchangeable sounds lead to such wildly different audience reactions.