Movie Review: Crazy Heart

“Son, I’ve played sick, drunk, divorced, and on the run. Bad Blake hasn’t missed a goddamn show in his whole fucking life.”

“I was born Bad. When I die, my real name will be on my tombstone.”

Jeff Bridges brings the crazy to Crazy Heart with his wild depiction of fictional singer/song-writer Bad Blake. The movie itself is nothing to marvel at, but Bridges makes for a thing to behold.

The story follows the waning career of Bad Blake, a drunk, chain-smoking, washed-up country singer pissing away the latter years drifting from bar to bar, playing for anyone that will listen. Though obviously talented, he since has passed his day, usurped by a popular former-pupil named Tommy Sweet (Collin Farrel). As life continues its downward spiral into self-destruction, however, Blake meets Jean Cradick (Maggie Gyllenhaal), a small-town reporter, whose love and affection begins to set him on the path to salvation.

This one is all about the character of Bad Blake. Bridges is masterful in the role, bringing to it a wealth of acting talent, and an apparent affinity for the grungy drunk sort of life (for those of you that have seen The Big Lebowski, you’ll know what I’m talking about). You feel him and you feel his plight, despite all the stupid things he does and all the stupid ways he acts. He is self-centered and fairly repulsive—but he still manages to burrow his way under your skin, in a good way. His slow but steady descent into self-destruction seems only perfect for Bridges, who makes for the perfect weathered old man.

The parallel between him and the younger man, Sweet, is particularly interesting. Their lives continuously intersect, despite Blake’s best efforts, and the whole passing the torch cliché is played to its utmost—though it has its twists. Sweet is obviously destined for the spotlight, but though he tries to extend his hand to Blake numerous times, the man takes amusing pleasure in blowing him off, despite the harm it does to himself.

Bridges and Gyllenhaal

I may not be a country fan—in fact I’m about the furthest from one—but I must say the movie hosts a strong soundtrack that fans of the genre would undoubtedly coo over. And if you can take Bridges’ manly voice grinding it out to you, the words are really rather beautiful. The photography and cinematography were also a delight—at various points you have to sit back and marvel at the shots they made, because the scenery is spectacular.

The movie itself follows a rather predictable course. Down-on-his-luck asshole meets much younger, fawning woman. Said lovely woman (also factor in, REPORTER—so, hey, that adds points for me) begins to bring the love back into his life, but it is only in losing said beauty that he realizes the error of his ways and changes for good. The movie wasn’t up for its scripting abilities, and for good reason—though I will say Gyllenhaal did decent work opposite Bridges. She was a real sweetheart.

I could have done without the visions of naked him on naked her, however. Gave me the shivers for nights on end.

If you’re a Jeff Bridges of a country fan, I would say you should probably give this one a look. It will entertain you for a few hours, and leave you with a few new tunes to hum by movie’s end. If neither of those things are in your genre, though, you may want to venture into greener pastures.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

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~ by Chris G. on May 18, 2010.

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