The Coen Brothers' quirky folk-music tale is both unsentimental and bleak, but the circular story sticks with you, says Eli Glasner.
Oscar Isaac has Joel and Ethan Coen to thank for his acclaimed, breakout turn in the sibling filmmakers' new movie Inside Llewyn Davis.
Isaac, a Juilliard-educated actor previously seen in secondary roles in Drive, Sucker Punch and Robin Hood, has already earned critical praise and an acting nomination for the upcoming Golden Globe Awards for his starring role in the new film.
As the movie's titular folk singer, he plays a talented but unlucky artist struggling for survival in New York's Greenwich Village in 1961.
"It's not an accident that so many actors in their films get so much recognition. They really create the stage for actors to do their best work," Isaac said of the Coens in an interview with CBC News.
"Success and failure are on a knife's edge. So many things have to go your way to succeed the way you want to, which usually means not compromising. Very few people are fortunate enough to never have to compromise, especially when they're in a creative field," he said.
"This [movie] is, in a way, an ode to all the artists who don't get that opportunity."
Based loosely on the story of 1960s-era Brooklyn folk singer Dave Van Ronk, Inside Llewyn Davis takes an unflinching, unsentimental look at the early days of the folk music scene, prior to Bob Dylan's arrival in New York and before the genre gained wider popularity.
The era has been described as "a lost moment in American folk music," Joel Coen told CBC's Jian Ghomeshi in a recent interview.
"The fact that it's less familiar makes it, to us, more exotic: a little more interesting and therefore more fertile in terms of setting a story."
In the attached videos, Oscar Isaac talks to CBC News about Inside Llewyn Davis and Eli Glasner offers his review of the bleak musical tale. In the attached audio, Joel and Ethan Coen talk to Q's Jian Ghomeshi about their latest work, their success career and their working relationship.
Already released in limited locations, Inside Llewyn Davis opens to wider release on Wednesday.