Inside Llewyn Davis

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Inside Llewyn Davis Movie Poster Image
Bleak but lovely journey OK for older-teen music fans.
  • R
  • 2013
  • 105 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 6 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 7 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The biggest ally you can have when you're reaching for your dreams is self-motivation and drive. There will be days when striving seems for naught, but you can't short-change yourself.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Llewyn's not a particularly popular or together guy, but his passion for his music is impressive, second only to his talents. Some of his friends do really care about him, and hold his best interests at heart.


A screaming fight between two ex-lovers. A man sucker-punches another, leaving him doubled over on the ground. Talk of suicide.


A heated discussion about how one man impregnated a woman who already has a boyfriend.


Lots of swearing in the first part of the film, and then it's periodic. Some pejorative language ("queer"), plus "s--t," "---hole," "Goddammit," "sonofabitch," "d--k," "piss" and "f--k."


A few cases of historical name dropping, including the Gaslight and Columbia Records.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A man gets tipsy at a club and heckles the performer. Some social drinking. A man is shown shaking on a bathroom floor after an apparent drug overdose.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Inside Llewyn Davis, by filmmaking brothers Joel and Ethan Coen, is a startlingly affecting drama about 1960s Greenwich Village folk singer Llewyn Davis's struggle to be noticed and to survive. Expect a bleak (but memorable) retelling that includes some intense subject matter (suicide, abortion), plus some drinking and a scene of a possible drug overdose that may be too heavy for younger teens. There's also plenty of swearing, including "---hole" and "f--k," and a bunch of amazing musical performances. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byconcernedparentsMass January 25, 2020

Excellent movie for mature adults but themes of failure, hopelessness likely to depress rather than enlighten teens

The Coen brother's tonic for the existential burden of life - every individual's aloneness, the seeming futility of suffering, the random violence o... Continue reading
Adult Written byBoneyardLimited March 8, 2019

It's Crazy Heart by way of A Serious Man

This look at a folk singer’s life in the ‘60s is sometimes funny but mostly just depressing. The humor comes primarily from irony, but the inescapable facts of... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byjjjynn December 13, 2020

Bleak and beautiful: this movie is a folk song

A tragic yet excellently acted and executed journey of a man's life spinning in circles around a drain. People should be warned of language, a few light pu... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byIamGavin May 1, 2021

My Favorite

Inside Louis Davis is such an incredible movie. The writing is sharp and witty, Oscar Isaac gives an incredible performance, and the movie is beautiful. There i... Continue reading

What's the story?

Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) is having a bad time. His former musical partner gone, due to a tragic suicide, he's going it alone. Though they were mildly successful as a duo, nobody wants to give him the time of day as a soloist. Meantime, an old lover (Carey Mulligan), who's now dating his best friend (Justin Timberlake), drops some unexpected news, making Llewyn more determined than ever to figure his life out. Llewyn pins his hopes onto an audience with a Chicago nightclub owner and music manager, and he'll make the pilgrimage to the Windy City by hitchhiking with a junkie jazz musician (John Goodman) and his surly sidekick (Garrett Hedlund).

Is it any good?

INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS is a feat of filmmaking, taking the gentle strains of folk music and revealing it for the revolutionary act that it is. Not just because it has been the soundtrack of many social movements, but of personal ones, too. Oscar Isaac as Llewyn is revelatory, a bone-tired, supremely talented man whose passion for making music is struggling mightily against the whims of the industry and his demons -- one being the loss of his musical partner to suicide. When Isaac sings, we're transported first to the dusky bars of 1960s West Village and, more important, to the jungle of discouragement and confusion he's living in. It's a powerful performance. Supporting him is a great ensemble, some new to the Coen Brothers family (Timberlake, thankfully subdued and nearly holding his own against the others) and some beloved veterans (Goodman).

It's not just Isaac and the cast, though, that makes Inside Llewyn Davis remarkable. The music, with T-Bone Burnett in charge of the soundtrack, takes its rightful place front and center. And the Coens tell the story in a clever, elliptical way that drives home the futility and magic of a time. But it's not all sadness and tears. The Coens' singular humor runs a streak through the entire enterprise. Go see it.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the character of Llewyn. What makes him different from other movie heroes? What is the message behind his journey?

  • How does this movie illuminate the folk music scene of the 1960s? Does it debunk myths in any way?

  • What do you think of the folk music sung here? How is it different from today's music?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love music

Themes & Topics

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