Fresh Air’s film critic David Edelstein reviews the Coen brothers' latest film, Inside Llewyn Davis:
For all its surface delights, Inside Llewyn Davis is thin. Those disparate tones — the mocking and the transcendent — can’t be reconciled because they’re meant to be irreconcilable: Once the music stops, petty humans are back in the muck. It’s a sour worldview — and unearned. Only the Coens could turn that stirring early-’60s era that helped give birth to the best part of the counterculture into a sick joke.
I have no doubts about Oscar Isaac, though. With his thick, unruly hair and beard, he evokes two countercultural touchstones, Lenny Bruce and Al Pacino in Serpico. He makes Llewyn a jerk of stature, chafing at his fate but always getting that sick joke that is his life. Musically, Isaac doesn’t hit every note dead on, but his singing feels richer than performers with better pipes. He gives the Coens’ vision more fullness than it deserves.