Crazy Heart

The Nominations:

  • Actor in a Leading Role
  • Actress in a Supporting Role
  • Music (Original Song)

The Black-and-White:

A review by SpacedCowboy

Crazy Heart, at least in the context of the Academy Awards, is an easy film to review. Of the three nods, two should be a lock, while the third illustrates well the vagaries and unpredictability of the machinations of the Academy.

Here is a plot synopsis from imdb.com:

Bad Blake (Jeff Bridges) is a broken-down, hard-living country music singer who’s had way too many marriages, far too many years on the road and one too many drinks way too many times. And yet, Bad can’t help but reach for salvation with the help of Jean (Maggie Gyllenhaal), a journalist who discovers the real man behind the musician.

The indisputable strength of the film is Jeff Bridges. I have heard repeatedly that Jeff was the “right actor, for the right role, at the right time” and, boy, do I agree. In a film that had its share of flaws, Bridges as Bad Blake was riveting, revolting and yet undeniably sympathetic. We want Bad to be good. We want Bad to win.

Bridges invested heart, body and soul in his performance-of-a-lifetime (with apologies to fans, this scribe included, of The Dude). Checking self-consciousness at the door, Bridges bares it all to give a gritty insight into the life of a talented, raging alcoholic. Beer-belly was never displayed with such panache. It was a long road from inception to production for Crazy Heart, with the film being scripted with Bridges in mind – no one else could be better as Bad. And no other actor gave a performance to top Bridges this year – the Oscar is his, and deservedly so.

The music is the other obvious strength of the film. The Weary Kind is a strong entry in a category (Original Song) that has struggled in the past for respect. This song fits the film, and is a song to remember. Winner, winner chicken dinner.

Now the bad:

The film flies, but does not soar. The acting (and for my money the cinematography – an extremely well shot film), backed by a strong soundtrack, makes for good film. My complaints are primarily directed towards a paper thin plotline. We never are exposed to the reasons  for Bad to be so bad. Is he simply a guy who got beat by booze? Possibly, but how did he start down that path? Similarly, we are told that Jean Craddock (Maggie Gyllenhaal) made bad choices in her past (and continues to do so, clearly), but never do we see even a glimmer of how that has changed her, hurt her, and crafted her into the character we see. She seems as sweet as pie in this film. Similarly, an ominous history between bad Blake and Tommy Sweet is foreshadowed. Yet when they meet, is is all sweetness for old Bad.

An interesting plot line going nowhere.

There was occasionally a moment of interest. For example, Jean  talks about not being able to live if her son died, and Bad says “But that’s the thing. You do.” I remember thinking: “Ah, now we’ll get to it. Now we’ll see what has led him down such a dark road.” But that’s the thing; it didn’t. All I know is that Bad drinks – drinks a lot. I don’t know why.

And why-oh-why does Jean fall for a character that must be 30 years her senior? No chemistry, no indications of what attracts her to him, and, to be truthful, not a lot of information about why he likes her either. It seems to just be. And parenthetically, this is gross – it is not “normal” for a 30 year old (hot) woman to fall for 60 year old flabby man, no matter how much we XY’s would like it to be so…

And so at the end of the day we are left with a relatively one dimensional story – an alcoholic singer gets sober and recovers his career. While that is a story, it has nowhere near the richness that Bad deserved, and that Bridges was aching and capable to play.

Good film, not great, but Bridges and The Weary Kind should take home gold.




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One Response to Crazy Heart

  1. […] You Might Think I’m… … crazy? New review of Crazy Heart. […]

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