Diverting away from the intricate crime plots attached to “Fargo” or “Burn After Reading,” the Coens instead chart about two weeks' time in the titular folk singer's life, portrayed by Oscar Isaac and loosely based on Dave van Ronk, an influential folk musician who inspired the likes of Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs and Joni Mitchell. “He's trying to get some traction in his career and in his life,” Joel Coen explained recently to the New York Times, and that Llewyn's journey shows “how good you are doesn't always matter.”
The film also includes Carey Mulligan and Justin Timberlake who, along with Isaac, help build the film into the Coens' most musically oriented since “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”
“There are lots of duets and trios,” Joel said of his principal leads (as seen in these stills), before adding that while the film isn't a musical per se, there will be full-length performances of folk songs performed in the Village during that period. (Dylan, who was just starting out at the time, “sort of” appears in the film.)
Reprising his role as music producer with the Coens from “O Brother,” T-Bone Burnett has also partnered here with Marcus Mumford (of Mumford & Sons fame) who throws his voice into the film as well. Together, they set about recreating the burgeoning NYC folk scene, and in the resulting blend of fictional characters in real locales, Joel and Ethan hope to hit a stirring evocation rather than accuracy in their finished result.
They shot the film mostly in New York last year, and used French company Studio Canal for financing with no American distributor locked in place. The situation currently remains the same -- the Coens plan to possibly bring the film to Cannes in May, where they've been semi-regular attendees over the years, last holding forth on the Croisette in 2007 with "No Country For Old Men." And while we have to wait and see how that plays out, judging from the buzz surrounding the industry screening February 9th, we'd wager news on stateside plans aren't too far away.