Those familiar with the Coen brothers’s work will remember their bluegrass musical comedy O Brother, Where Art Thou, which was based on The Odyssey. This film also tells the story of an odyssey but a much more downbeat and sad one, albeit with moments of comedy, in which Llewyn, played by Oscar Isaac, goes in search of success but meets only abject failure. It is set in the early 60s New York folk club scene and there are allusions to Peter, Paul and Mary and Bob Dylan. It is loosely based on the career of David Roth, a friend of Dylan’s at that time.
As well as Isaac’s marvellous performance, ranging between depression and sudden outbursts of rage, there are wonderful cameos from Justin Timberlake, John Goodman (a Coen brothers regular) and F Murray Abraham.
The film won the Grand Prize of the Jury at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival but, to the amazement of the British film critics was not nominated for an Oscar for Best Film. Perhaps this says something about the contrast between the European and American sensibilities. It is a low-key, melancholy film without a happy ending.
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Venue: William Loveless Hall