Ben De Bono’s review published on Letterboxd:
As a huge Coen Brothers fan, I'm a bit embarrassed to admit it's taken me two years to watch Inside Llewyn Davis. Thankfully, I've now rectified that problem (as has the Criterion Collection by, finally, releasing a Coen Brothers film).
The film is fantastic. After another viewing or two, I wouldn't be surprised if it ranks among my favorite Coen movies. The brilliance of the film is that it never falls into the opposing mistakes of romanticizing Llewyn's starving artist plight or over playing his parasitic, immature qualities. It lets him exist as a fully realized character.
Throughout the film I found myself wondering why people are drawn (both in the film and in real life) to individuals like Llewyn Davis who seem to only take and are repeatedly seemingly ungrateful for the charity of others. By the end of the film I understood: for all his flaws, Llewyn's talent and sincerity are very real. They draw us back to him in a way that seems to accept - if not excuse - his faults. The brilliance of the movie for me is that it placed me in the position of understanding the many people Llewyn mooches off of. I felt simultaneously repulsed by him and relentlessly drawn to him.
The cinematography is incredible and rivals anything the great Roger Deakins has done for the Coen Brothers over the years. Likewise, Oscar Isaac is unforgettable. While I'm glad he's getting some much deserves success in Star Wars and X-Men, I would hate it if his career gets swallowed up by the big budget studio movies. He was great in Star Wars, but where he really thrives is in movies like this, Ex Machina, and Show Me a Hero.
Inside Llweyn Davis affected me deeply. It's the Coens at the top of their game, which makes for as good a cinematic experience as you're likely to find