Inside Llewyn Davis might not be out until January 2014 in the UK, but it debuted in the capital this week at the BFI film festival. Most of the stars – Carey Mulligan, Oscar Isaac and John Goodman included – joined director partners – Joel and Ethan Coen on the red carpet.

Oscar IsaacOscar Isaac in Inside Llewyn Davis

The film follows one week in the life of Llewyn Davis – a young folk singer at odds with the mundane domesticity of life, trying to live rather than exist. He’s muddling through the Greenwich Village folk scene in the harsh winter of 1961, New York. The goal: make a living from his music.

Oscar Isaac stars as the titular star, while Carey Mulligan plays the folk singer Jean Berkley. She said “she loved how unkind Jean could be, how brutal even. Most of the women I play are quite empathetic and Jean most certainly is not.”

The Coen Brothers were set on Mulligan from the moment they saw her NSFW – unless of course your work is a movie set – audition tape. “We saw a lot of actresses for this part but Carey sent us a tape and it's very funny,” said Joel. Ethan added: “Funny because she was angry and p***ed off. It was a really angry reading of a scene with an American accent, and we were a little scared of her.”

Carey MulliganCarey Mulligan and Justin Timberlake star in Inside Llewyn Davis

The reviews have been excellent for the Coen Brothers latest effort. Famed for their nearly spotless portfolio of films, the pair are renown, and as a result, whatever they do is looked at with a unique level of scrutiny and anticipation.

Digital Spy, who caught the movie at last night’s UK festival premiere, said it’s, “A wry and beautifully understated study of loss, as frequently biting as it is moving, it slips directly into contention with the Coens' finest work.”

Time Out reviewed the film well, saying: “The Coens have given us a melancholic, sometimes cruel, often hilarious counterfactual version of music history. It's a what-if imagining of a cultural also-ran that maybe tells us more about the truth than the facts themselves ever could.”

Inside Llewyn DavisInside Llewyn Davis is out in January 2014

Overall, with an accumulative rating of 89% on Rotten Tomatoes, and with many praising Isaac’s performance in the leading role, the film has a small chance of prospering at the Oscars when they’re handed out in March 2014.