Thanks to Joel and Ethan Coen, I left the Palais des Festivals on Saturday night a lot happier than I entered it. The relentless rain had put a damper on the atmosphere, and I found myself really missing the sunshine that graced us the day – for only a day – before. The brothers Coen have created a film that is tragically funny, and yet just so lovely in its dispiriting nature. It focusses on a struggling musician, Llewyn – the fictional character inspired by the memoir of folk singer Dave Van Ronk – in New York’s folk music scene just before Bob Dylan rose to fame.
The lead role is played by Oscar Isaac, who is already having heaps of praise lauded onto him for this film. One of the best parts of the film is that we are treated to full-length songs by the actor, who until now, has not had a starring role to shine in. I wanted to clap after each one. At a press conference for the film on Sunday, Ethan Coen called the search for the lead “a casting challenge; we were screwed before we met Oscar Isaac”. Music producer T Bone Burnett, who performed with Dylan, added: “The odds against us making the film at all were very long. The odds against us finding Oscar Isaac were one in 17 million.” Oscar appeared visually touched by the comments from journalists in the room about his stellar performance.
Carey Mulligan, who has also been here for The Great Gatsby, is also in the film, and her husband, Marcus Mumford helped with its soundtrack. In a press conference filled with a lot of laughs, Carey revealed she only told the Coens she could sing so she could get the part. Her voice isn’t bad actually, and she sings alongside her husband in the film, Justin Timberlake. And there’s also a certain cat that has a starring role. It’s sweet and sad and all quite lovely.