The Times' own Kenneth Turan writes, "While the bleak, funny, exquisitely made 'Inside Llewyn Davis' echoes familiar themes and narrative journeys, it also goes its own way and becomes a singular experience, one of [the Coen brothers'] best films." The title role is "beautifully played" by Isaac, "who had to be both believable as a musician and a good enough actor to appear in every scene" (the Juilliard-trained actor sings and plays guitar in the film).
Turan adds, "It's the film's empathy with [Isaac's character], its sympathy with the plight of artists in general, that makes 'Inside' an unexpectedly emotional piece."
Joe Morgenstern of the
Stephanie Zacharek of the Village Voice agrees with Turan that "Llewyn Davis" deserves a high rank in the Coen canon. She writes, "'Inside Llewyn Davis' is the warmest picture they've ever made, and though it will never attract the cultlike adoration of 'The Big Lebowski' and 'Fargo,' or earn the serious-lit-adaptation accolades of
And Salon's Andrew O'Hehir writes, "If you require a movie in which you're always rooting for the hero (or find his struggle heroic in the first place), this one might not be it. But for my money, the 33-year-old Isaac … gives the year's breakout performance, and 'Inside Llewyn Davis' is one of the Coens' richest, strangest and most potent films."