Music Break: Oscar Isaac’s singing in ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’


Boy, it’s been two months since I did a Music Break post, as I missed doing one in December! Well, now it’s the last day in January and I’ve been wanting to highlight this soundtrack for some time, so today is as good a time as any.

I’ve mentioned a few times on this blog that I wasn’t enamored by this film. I appreciate the character study of a down-on-his-luck folk singer set in New York City’s Greenwich Village in 1961, but it feels so indulgently aimless. To be honest, the decidedly-morose tone makes this film much longer than 1 hour and 45 minutes! The pointless ending especially rubs me the wrong way. I guess I just don’t get what the point of it all is, which I find quite frustrating.

But hey, I’m not going to focus on the negative as there are two things I really enjoyed about the film (well three if I count the cat) and those are Oscar Isaac’s acting/singing and the music. According to this Rolling Stones article, the Coens thought their screenplay was ‘un-filmable’ before they saw Isaac … “Where would they find a crazy-talented singer-guitarist with movie-star presence and major comic acting chops?” Well I’m very glad that their paths crossed!

The opening sequence of Llewyn singing at the bar singing this song is exquisite, and it really makes me want to know more about the character.


Isaac is a Guatemalan-born actor who’s been on my radar for some time ever since I saw him as the spoiled Prince John in Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood. He’s apparently trained Juilliard where he was encouraged to work on his voice. ‘Through doing the basic practical classes, learning how to use my diaphragm, I really figured out how to sing and what it was that I sounded like.’ [per Telegraph]. He was also in a punk bank before his dramatic training, as a frontman for a band called the Blinking Underdogs when he went through the Cure phase. He said he was a terrible singer then but surely that’s not the case as I LOVE his voice. I’m going to have to update my old list of Actors who are surprisingly good singers. I think the fact that he can actually play guitar really well AND has a naturally melodic voice adds so much realism to his character, it’s as if I was really watching a part-Welsh musician named Llewyn Davis instead of an actor playing one.

Now this clip below is one of the highlights from the film. It’s hilarious and bizarre, with great supporting turn from Justin Timberlake and Adam Driver.

Lastly, here’s a recording of Isaac with Marcus Mumford of Mumford & Sons:

[SPOILER alert] It’s quite amusing that Bob Dylan appears at the end of film. He’s a music legend who I’m not really fond of. I always joke that I don’t get the Coens’ style and Bob Dylan’s music, two blasphemous things for people living in Minnesota, ahahahaha. In fact, I said to my hubby afterwards that if Llewyn Davis were a real musician, I’d rather buy his records than Dylan’s 😀

So yeah, even though I won’t buy the dvd of Inside Llewyn Davis, I’d readily buy the soundtrack.

Hope you enjoy the music break today. Thoughts on this soundtrack and/or the film?

35 thoughts on “Music Break: Oscar Isaac’s singing in ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’

    1. Yeah I read that on his filmography. Not sure I want to see Drive though, I’m pretty sure I’m not going to like that one. Thanks Michael.

  1. Great highlight Ruth. Isaacs is exceptional in this film on all accounts. I’m disappointed that he didn’t receive and nomination for it. Such a natural performance. Loved the film too but then I normally do with the Coens. I haven’t even attempted a review yet, though. I’m waiting till I see it again as there’s definitely more than meets the eye on this one.

    1. Thanks Mark! Yeah I’d love for Isaac to have gotten an Oscar nod, tho I’m not sad the film wasn’t nominated. I don’t know if I want to rewatch the film again tho, but I sure hope Isaac will get more roles because of this.

  2. No love for the Coens and Bob Dylan? I’m a huge fan of both.

    Nice post. The soundtrack of David is superb. I’ve listened to it a few times and feel Isaac was snubbed by the Academy.

    1. Well I like SOME of Coens movies, but this one in particular, not so much. Sorry but I just don’t like Dylan’s voice.

      Totally agree that Isaac was snubbed big time!

  3. Good spotlight. I really liked this film, even more as ice thought on it. But a big reason is the music. But the Coens often have wonderful music in their movies. This one is no exception.

    1. If I only judge the film by the acting and music I’d have given it an A, but narrative-wise I don’t care for it. Funny but I don’t usually pay attention to the music in Coens’ music as much as I did here, perhaps because the protagonist is a musician. Thanks Keith.

      1. Husker Du and the Replacements are definitely some of the most influential 80s alternative rock bands where they had elements of punk but with some melody. For Husker Du, I would start w/ Zen Arcade and for the Replacements, Let It Be.

  4. Nice write-up, Ruth. I can understand not being a huge fan of the film, as your reaction does mimic my own immediate reaction to the film (though the film has actually settled quite well in retrospect, to where it’s actually among my favorites of last year). However, film quality aside, one thing that can’t be disputed is how tremendous the music in this thing is. Awesome stuff on display here! 🙂

    1. Hi Chris! I might give this another watch once it’s on dvd but I doubt I’ll feel differently about it. Isaac and the music are ace though.

    1. Ha..ha.. so I take it you have the same experience as I did with this film? Amen about Frozen, that’s why I was aghast that it wasn’t nominated!

  5. Great post, Ruth. I haven’t seen the film yet (very soon, though) but I really liked what I’ve heard of the soundtrack so far. Oscar Isaac is a great actor and I love his voice.

    1. The film is still worth seeing Fernando, as most people love this one. But I’d agree with them in terms of the music and Isaac’s performance.

  6. Ted S.

    I still haven’t seen the movie yet, I’ll probably just wait till it hits Bluray since this kind of movie I prefer seeing it on my home theater and no annoying people around. I’ve listened to some of the songs from the movie and Oscar has a pretty good voice for an actor.

  7. Julie Tan

    Love the music and thanks for sharing them here, Ruth. I also admire you for openly admitting that you don’t get the Coen Brothers or Bob Dylan knowing that you will get a lot of heat for saying that living in the Midwest. Haha! They are gutsy just like you and that is why their work has been unquestionably artistic and creative.

    1. Hi Julie! Ahah, well I have to be true to myself, I wish I could say I love them but I just don’t. I don’t know if I’d equate myself with them though, but thanks for calling me gutsy 😀

  8. Loved the music in ILD, and loved that they played full songs in it. It gave it the feel of a musical. I enjoyed the film overall, quite slow but really liked it. I’ve been listening to some of the songs on my iPod, some of them are so catchy!

  9. I’ve had my eyes on Isaac since 2009 specifically when he played John in ROBIN HOOD and more importantly (for me) a major role in AGORA opposite Rachel Weisz. I loved INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS much more than you but glad we agree on him.

    He’s so good here and I’m excited to see that he gets more roles as worthy of his talent.

    1. Hi Andrew! I saw that he’s in AGORA though I’m not keen on the anti-Christian theme of that film so I skipped it.

      Yeah seems that everyone else love ILD more than me, that’s ok, I kinda figure that’d happen. I’m excited he’s getting more roles but hopefully more leading roles!

  10. Pingback: Hidden Gems: Adam Driver – FlixChatter Film Blog

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