Crazy Heart

2010-03-10 11:22
Crazy Heart review

What it's about:

Bad Blake (Jeff Bridges) is a hard-drinking, hard-living country singer whose career has seen better days. Desperate to make a living, he takes his act on the road, playing the old hit songs that once made him a star and still get him laid. He falls for single-mom journalist Jean Craddock (Maggie Gyllenhaal) after she interviews him for a local paper, and their ensuing romance is tested by distance and Bad's old ways.

What we thought:

Jeff Bridges may be in prime position to finally snag an Oscar this year, but Bad Blake is the type of likable, well-meaning but inherently flawed character Bridges has become the quiet master of. The unkempt, shaggy grey hair, weathered lines on his face and expansive paunch he is too hungover to keep clothed tell a thousand stories about this character and the hard road he has taken to mediocrity.

If the man himself isn’t a clear enough symbol, then the music, oh that sweet, heart-breaking country music Bad plays to entranced crowds every night is rich with the tragedy, loss and lessons learned that is the forte of the genre. Of course, what good is a country musician who hasn’t lived the heartache and pain he sings about?

Bad seems to attract, well, bad tidings wherever he goes, due to a drinking problem and a long-time estrangement from the wife and young son he abandoned as a baby. And as Bad, Bridges cuts a tragic, pathetic figure. At 57, he is broke, battling a body that's falling apart, he hasn't written a new song in years and he seems pained by the fact that his protégé Tommy Sweet (a revelatory Colin Farrell) is now a megastar. But his languid, country boy charm that makes it impossible to judge him for his many faults. Like Walk the Line (2006), which chronicled the early years of Johnny Cash's battle with drugs and his own heart's desires, Crazy Heart is the picture of a life lived on borrowed time.

It's when Bad is onstage, singing those utterly beautiful songs, that we see a different side to him - someone who is adored and revered by many, who can spin a simple yarn that's rich with hard-won truth ("Funny how fallin' feels like flyin'/ for a little while") and make you forget that there's another world outside, even if the only venues he is able to book are dingy little bars and bowling alleys. It's no wonder he effortlessly picks up chicks after nearly every show. And that's just fine with Bad.

His rough edges are smoothed somewhat as he falls in love with the much-younger Jean and her son. Here, finally, he has the opportunity to put right the many wrongs he committed against his own family. And even though it's instinctual to fear that Jean's humble, giving heart will be broken by the man she can't help but love, there is a sweet glimmer of hope and redemption in Bridges and Gyllenhaal's subtly nuanced performances. Theirs is not a story we haven't heard before, and yet (apologies for the over-used analogy) it's like watching a car crash in beautiful slow motion. You just can't take your eyes off it.

There are many reasons to completely ignore Crazy Heart at the cinema and favour of something featuring younger, hotter couples, more contemporary pop music and something a bit less, you know, sad. But this would be a huge mistake. With his debut feature film, director Scott Cooper has crafted a moving, intimate film that gives his magnificent cast ample space to breathe and the music, written and produced by country veteran T-Bone Burnett and Stephen Bruton, is something truly special.

A broken-down, hard-living country music singer stumbles his way back to writing new music and finding love.

tony serafin 2010/02/24 12:49 PM
I'm sold, Shaheema, I WANT TO SEE THIS MOVIE !! Regards, and thanks for putting it SO WELL. Tony
margaret hattingh 2010/03/08 9:58 AM
Yep....will definitly be seeing this one... Thanks
Wendy Jenkins 2010/03/08 4:50 PM
  • Rating:
Jeff Bridges is most deserving of the Oscar for Best Actor. He is absolutely brilliant (and adorable). I loved the movie!
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