Oscar Isaac–Hang Me, Oh Hang Me

I guess it’s probably in bad form to talk about two films in a row directed by the Coen Brothers with T Bone Burnett as music director.  If only they weren’t so good at what they do.  While O Brother, Where Art Though? utilized depression era folk to tell its story, Inside Llewyn Davis actually takes place within in a musical movement.  It examines the darker side of the 60s Greenwich Village folk scene by focusing on a talented musician who fails to break through, very, very loosely based on Dave Van Ronk.  Oscar Isaac accomplishes the remarkable task of making lead character Llewyn Davis a complete asshole, but also completely sympathetic.  Whatever it is as a performer, Davis has it, but even the folk scene was about marketably and that is something he sorely lacks.  Yet the pathos he evokes while performing folk traditionals is astounding.  Unlike many performers of the era, he’s not doing a great job of performing someone else’s story.  Rather he’s doing a painfully brilliant job of performing his own.  Despite the fact that the song had been around for decades, David may as well have written Hang Me, Oh Hang Me.  Starving, itinerant and despondent, he still manages to make the titular hanging sound like sweet release, plucking dulcet tones from his guitar.  It’s the role of a lifetime for Isaac, who is total perfection in the part.  He brings a weary conviction to every moment, only allowing flashes of sincerity when Davis is doing what he so clearly loves in performing.

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