The Coens made a splash Saturday night with the gala premiere of "Inside Llewyn Davis." The film, with a stunning awards-worthy performance by Oscar Isaac, follows a singer/-songwriter as he attempts to make a go of it in the burgeoning folk music scene of New York's Greenwich Village in the early '60s. Backed by upbeat reviews, distributor CBS Films, producer Scott Rudin and Oscar strategist Cynthia Swartz will make an awards push for the film (here's TOH, Variety, Indiewire, THR, Awards Daily).
"The casting was a challenge," noted Ethan at an afternoon press conference Sunday afternoon in Cannes. "We had to find someone who would be in practically every frame of the film and also someone who is a musician and be able to carry different songs. We were screwed until we met Oscar."
Also starring Carey Mulligan, John Goodman, Justin Timberlake and Garrett Hedlund, the film caused a mob scene outside the Debussy Theater here for its Saturday night press screening despite the onslaught of massive rain. Hundreds were turned away, but most of those who did get in seemed pleased-- if the enthusiastic clapping could be translated into metrics. Audience members erupted in applause after one musical number with Isaac and Timberlake, who plays the husband of Carey Mulligan's character, Jean Berkey.
At the later press conference, Timberlake noted that folk was not directly a musical form he is known for, but growing up in Tennessee he had ample exposure to that as well as blues and country. He suggested that his success in the music business, which contrasts with the never-ending struggle Oscar Isaac's Llewyn Davis character faces, was in part a product of chance.
"I've met a lot of people in my time in the music industry since I was very young. There is that rule that came from Malcolm Gladwell that says you're not an expert at something until you've spent 10,000 hours doing it. There's a lot of people who've done that, including Llewyn Davis. For me, I've been in the right place and have met the wrong people and I've been in the wrong place and met the right people. And the latter is what helped me."
"[Llewyn Davis] experienced a compilation of bad luck and also self destructive tendencies," said Isaac. "But he did it in a way that was a search for authenticity."