Cohen Brothers movies are generally about a character whose life is a "bowl of shit." In some of the films like No Country, Blood Simple, Oh Brother, etc, the character tries to do something about it. In others, like Llewyn, Barton Fink, A Serious Man, The Big Lebowski (arguable) it's about the character recognizing and/or coming to terms with it.
This has not so much an interpretation as trying to come to terms with a movie that seems to be more than just a portrayal of a folk singer during the early sixties,authentically one not, that seems to throw some deeper insight into that period, with metaphoric symbols and beat generation stereotypes that either are Hollywood gimmicks, or just plain BS to think the movie deep, thus more skillfully crafted.
The cat as a symbol of 9 lives, with the Disney poster of the "Incredible journey", & always landing on its feet, seem contrived and an after thought, as does the characters of the strung out Farout Hipsters he join us to Chicago, the ex-girl from Akron, the gynecologist who was performing abortions with a waiting room full of women, who was just too friendly for what in 1961, was a crime that conjured up visions of alley dope deals, secrecy and shame.
I grew up with folk getting my own guitar (a Silvertone,from Sears,btw,) & recently visited the village, spending an afternoon listening to musicians who played in Wash. Square. I realize the details were accurate, but we need more to grab us and fill in the personalities, the attitudes and the feeling of that time.
My GF who thought I would love this and is 54 to my 64 kinda summed it up as I searched for something to explain the cats, the allusions, the poetry, . that would have lifted this movie to a point the subject really deserves. Her take, "it was about a folk singer who was' t a winner (aka DYLAN) and I was looking for clues to make it untrue that most who try do not make the charts or even get noticed as they busk on some corner for a nod or a smile & change."
I insisted there must be more, " the cat, symbolism, something as it may as well been a documentary a day in the life of a folk singer. Nope, just a loser. No real plot, no love of music, just the facts ma'am!(Dragnet) Than I remembered "Don't Look Back"- the documentary about Dylan and his arrogant FU attitude we saw in 1968-9 & how it showed him as America' very own @ssh°le. It took my heroes & showed me them Right or wrong, that they weren't larger than life. It succeeds maybe too well from that POV. THAT WAS THE PLOT; & the cats and all the rest "RED HERRINGS" The emperor was naked and cool a lot warmer.
The Folk Scene in late 50's early 60's was a mish mash of talent and talentless singer/songwriters.
Llewyn Davis was on the cusp. The pivotal moment was at the end when Dylan enters and we know that Folk music is going to explode with popularity.