Tagline: The harder the life, the sweeter the song.
Synopsis: Bad Blake is a faded country music musician who has seen hard times and lost dreams on the road. While his career continues to spiral into dust, he learns that his hard living is going to mean the end of more than his career until an unlikely romance forces him to reassess his dysfunctional life before it’s too late.
Meat & Potatoes: Crazy Heart is the kind of independent film you want to like if for no other reason than seeing A list talent shine in sparse, confined space. Described by some as an American musical – drama film, it was written and directed by Scott Cooper and based on the 1987 novel of the same name by Thomas Cobb. If you’re wondering why you don’t know who Scott Cooper is it might be because prior to this movie he was most notable as a character actor.
Jeff Bridges made me believe in Bad Blake, his rough and tumbled life and desperate search for something he could hold on to. Lesser actors would have been lost whereas every subtle expression by Bridges seemed to come from someplace deep within him that only years of his own could impart. I liked seeing Maggie Gyllenhaal and Robert Duvall here but honestly feel like their characters were underdeveloped and often relegated to minor importance. I knew going in that Jeff Bridges was going to actually sing and perform the songs which lent a kind of authenticity to the character that is absent when an actor has to fake it. I’m reminded of Denzel Washington in Mo’ Better Blues or Forest Whitaker in Clint Eastwood‘s Oscar winning biopic Bird. As much as I like both those films and actors there’s an air that fills up around them in the respective scenes performing that doesn’t ring true. I had heard that T-Bone Burnett was involved in the music and it was apparent with several songs that might have just as easily been pulled from today’s radio airways. In particular Fallin’ & Flyin’ and The Weary Kind. I was surprised to learn that Colin Farrell actually sang/performed his part of Tommy Sweet in the film. Speaking of Colin Farrell, have you seen him as Ray in the 2008 film In Bruges, or Bobby morrow in the 2004 movie A Home at the End of the World? I feel that Mr Farrell is an outstanding performer who hasn’t found the right vehicle to underscore his incredible talent and that his time in the lime-light is near. Remember you heard it here.
I really like Jeff Bridges in this picture and am reminded of a great number of past performances where he was wonderful – currently he is credited with 75 roles. I know I will always remember him as Jack Prescott in the 1976 version of King Kong, Kevin Flynn/Clu in the original TRON (1982), and how could we forget Lightfoot in Thunderbolt and Lightfoot. I would be remiss if I didn’t include his role as Jack Lucas in The Fisher King (1991) which by the way makes an interesting parallel with shock-jocks from the 70’s up until today. And lastly, probably one of my favorite characters brought brilliantly to life by Mr. Bridges would have to be Jeffrey Lebowski, I mean The Dude in The Big Lebowski (1998). I heard that his subsequent Academy Award Oscar was considered by some as a cumulative acknowledgement of many past performances that had been overlooked. Either way Mr. Bridges seems to embody the character of Bad Blake through and through. Aside from some story structure issues and mixed feelings about the ending, I enjoyed this one and I think you will too.
The Closer: Crazy Heart is the story of an aging, broken dreamer who is forced to change his ways and in doing so reminds us of ourselves. This is not a story about greatness but a story about one man with a guitar coming from some place honest.