What’s Not on the Page: On Acting and the Latest Coen Brothers Film

Must see in Oscar season.

IN A LONELY PLACE

There’s a scene in the Coen Brothers’ new film, Inside Llewyn Davis, which demands a closer look.

It takes place past the halfway mark. Llewyn Davis (the excellent Oscar Isaac) is in Chicago, at the famed Gate of Horn nightclub, where he has taken himself to audition for folk impresario Bud Grossman (F. Murray Abraham) modeled on the real life Albert Grossman, who opened the club in 1956.

Llewyn arrives wanting to know if Grossman has had a chance to listen to his debut solo album, Inside Llewyn Davis, and he says no, but he’ll hear him sing something now from the album. Llewyn sings ‘The Death of Queen Jane,’ a deeply melancholy traditional English ballad about the death of Queen Jane (Seymour) after giving birth. The song provides an affecting look inside Llewyn Davis and how he is feeling at this point in the narrative. What Grossman doesn’t…

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