Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5.
USA/France, 2013. CBS Films, StudioCanal, Anton Capital Entertainment, Mike Zoss Productions, Scott Rudin Productions. Screenplay by Joel Coen, Ethan Coen. Cinematography by Bruno Delbonnel. Produced by Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Scott Rudin. Production Design by Jess Gonchor. Costume Design by Mary Zophres. Film Editing by Ethan Coen, Joel Coen.
Another terrific example of how magical the Coen Brothers can be when they let go their desire to be cute about their favourite movie genres. This indelibly perfect tribute to the folk music scene in 1960s Greenwich Village has a superb Oscar Isaac as the title character, struggling and failing to make ends meet between performance gigs and railing against a world not interested in the depth and poetry at the heart of his musical style. He couch-surfs through the city during a relentlessly cold winter, clashing with acquaintances including more successful and popular singer Justin Timberlake, whose wife Carey Mulligan is bitter about her own affair with Isaac. The main character’s experiences all exist under the shadow of his having become a solo act following the suicide of his musical partner, meaning that Davis not only struggles to find ways to make a living but has to deal with people trying to get him to return to glory days that he cannot access. A perfect soundtrack, a host of great performances and some of the most beautiful imagery ever seen in a Coen brothers film (not to mention a genuinely adorable cat) make for a hands-down winner.
The Criterion Collection: #794
Academy Award Nominations: Best Cinematography; Best Sound Mixing
Cannes Film Festival Award: Grand Jury Prize
Golden Globe Award Nominations: Best Picture-Musical/Comedy; Best Actor-Musical/Comedy (Oscar Isaac); Best Original Song (“Please Mr. Kennedy”)