CANNES, France (AP) — The Coen brothers' resurrection of the pre-Dylan folk scene in Greenwich Village serenaded Cannes with its period music and melancholy tale of a self-destructive, feline-toting musician.
"Inside Llewyn Davis" was met rapturously at the Cannes Film Festival, where it premiered Sunday night. Joel and Ethan Coen said their primary interest was to recreate the atmosphere of the late 1950s, very early '60s folk revival amid the coffee shops of downtown New York.
"The movie doesn't really have a plot," Joel Coen told reporters at the festival. "That actually concerned us at a certain point. It's why we threw the cat in."
The film stars the relatively unknown Oscar Isaac as a talented but adrift singer-songwriter trying to attract attention after the suicide of his singing partner as he bounces from couch to couch. In tow is a cat — a kind of symbol for Llewyn's tenuous decency — that he reluctantly shepherds after it escapes from a friend's apartment.
Isaac's performance as the caustic, frustrated Isaac drew immediate raves at Cannes and predictions of an Oscar nomination. CBS Films will release "Inside Llewyn Davis" this fall in the heart of awards season.
"It's really the music where you see his soul come out," Isaac said.
Isaac and the cast (Carey Mulligan as a furious, expletive-spewing friend; Justin Timberlake as a cheesy pop folkie) performed their songs live with music supervisor T-Bone Burnett, who memorably collaborated with the Coens on the Grammy-winning hit soundtrack to "O Brother, Where Art Thou?"
Set in 1961 on the cusp of Bob Dylan's arrival ("the elephant in the room," Ethan Coen said), "Inside Llewyn Davis" is loosely based on the unfinished memoir by folk singer Dave Van Ronk, "The Mayor of MacDougal Street." (He released a 1963 album titled "Inside Dave Van Ronk.")