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Stars shine as Justin debuts folk hero role

IN the Coen brothers' Inside Llewyn Davis, Justin Timberlake (inset) sings music set to a very different beat than Suit and Tie.

Timberlake plays a bearded pop folkie in the film, which premiered last night at the Cannes and drew stars such as Kirsten Dunst, Nicole Kidman, Jane Fonda and Jessica Biel.

Oscar Isaac stars in the movie about the music scene of early 1960s Greenwich Village as a more serious but less successful folk musician than Timberlake's smiley Jim Berkey.

Timberlake called Berkey "part of the transition that is sort of the underbelly of the time". The film summons the period of New York folk just before Bob Dylan arrived in the early 1960s.

"Obviously, it's on the surface, a different style from the music that I make in real life," said Timberlake.

"But listen, man. I grew up in Tennessee, the home of the blues, the birthplace of rock 'n' roll – Memphis – and a lot of country music.

"So my first musical lessons were given to me by my grandfather on an old Gibson guitar. He taught me how to fingerpick."