You never know exactly what you’re going to get from a Joel and Ethan Coen film, but more often than not, it’s unexpectedly sublime. They’re masters of the craft, melding writing, performance, camera work, and soundtrack into one perfectly packaged storytelling experience. Their 2013 Cannes Film Festival debut Inside Llewyn Davis is no exception.
The film time travels back to 1961 New York City, when folk music was emerging as a favorite of youth culture. Every frame of Llewyn Davis feels authentic — forget 3D, when the titular character walks the streets of the Coens’ recreated Lower East Side — it feels like you could reach out and touch it. Add on amazing performances and a wry script and you have another modern classic in the making.
Like their 2000 film O Brother, Where Art Thou?, the Coens’ recruited T-Bone Burnett to curate their selection of folk cover songs. Everyone cast has their moment in the sun, including leading man Oscar Issac, and costars Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake, and Adam Driver. As the soulful music fills the screen, the Coens compliment it with blooming light and a grit that today only exists in memories of New York.
For a taste of what’s in store for the Dec. 20, 2013 release, here’s a few of the numbers that made the final cut of the film. Imagine them with the musical stylings of the above ensemble and you get an idea of why we’re swooning over Inside Llewyn Davis.