Starring: Jeff Bridges, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Colin Farrell, Robert Duvall
Every year, around Oscar time we get hit with a film like Crazy Heart. An ageing drunk gets chance after chance to redeem his or her-self but time after time they fail until they get a wake-up call and get back on track, or do they...? Last year it was The Wrestler, this year it’s Crazy Heart. Despite the fact that I’ve seen this movie at least twenty times before this was a pleasant experience overall. A nicely paced, superbly acted cautionary tale, this is certainly worth checking out and with two acting nominations and a nod for Best Song you should probably try to get to it before Oscar time.
The protagonist, haggard country singer Bad Blake (Bridges) is reaching the end of the line. He has been consumed by his alcoholism and is slowly coming to rock bottom. On the road, playing gigs in bowling alleys and dodgy bars in New Mexico, Bad disgraces himself night after night. At one of these gigs he meets beautiful young journalist Jean (Gyllenhaal) and they form a friendship which soon turns into a love affair. Despite their chemistry, the road to love is rocky due to Jean’s four year old son and Bad’s 50 year old addiction.
Much has been made of Jeff Bridges’ performance in this film and I believe deservedly. This character is never anything but loveable, despite his flaws. He is a good person and his “rock bottom” moments are difficult to endure. His singing is beautifully craggy and he sounds like a man who has been singing all his life. He is a shoo-in for the Oscar this year and not only because he is long overdue the recognition, but because this is easily the best leading man performance of the year (though, that didn’t help Mickey Rourke last year). A pleasant surprise is Colin Farrell’s extended cameo as Tommy Sweet, Bad’s one time protégé who has overtaken him and left him to the dust. He is a huge country star and for the first half of the film, he is set up as the villain of the piece. However, when we finally meet him, he is a genuine man who has been swept up in the corporate nonsense of country music, but still has nothing but love and respect for his mentor. Farrell sells this character really well, giving one of his best performances to date, and provides his own vocals to impressive effect. Man of many talents!
This is an enjoyable film. It is well paced, nicely shot and boasts superb performances all round. If you like backwoods, smoky country music then you’ll enjoy T-Bone Burnett’s songs which are plentiful throughout. Nothing we haven’t seen before but Crazy Heart is a highly enjoyable night at the cinema.
- Charlene Lydon