Review: Crazy Heart
PLOT: Bad Blake (Jeff Bridges) is a fifty-seven year old, alcoholic country singer- who was once a star, but now ekes out a meager living playing gigs in bars and bowling alleys. At one such gig, he meets Jean (Maggie Gyllenhaal), a small-time journalist raising a precocious four year old boy on her own. The two tentatively begin a May-December romance. Meanwhile, Blakes former protégé, Tommy Sweet (Colin Farrell), has become a superstar, and is eager to renew their relationship. For the first time in years, Blakes professional and personal lives both appear to be on the mend, but his demons threaten to derail both.
REVIEW: CRAZY HEART will likely be the film that finally wins Jeff Bridges an Academy Award, after previously being nominated four times (for THE LAST PICTURE SHOW, THUNDERBOLT & LIGHTFOOT, STARMAN, and THE CONTENDER). Sure enough, Bridges turns in an incredible performance, and he probably does indeed deserve to win the Oscar.
Inevitably, this will be compared to THE WRESTLER, with Mickey Rourkes Randy The Ram being a close cinematic cousin to Bad Blake. This is probably an unfair comparison, as CRAZY HEART, good as it is, cant hold a candle to THE WRESTLER which for my money, as one of the best films of the decade. Id also wager that Blake isnt quite as tragic a figure as Ram. For one thing, Blake actually has a great deal of talent, and could easily stage a comeback if only he could overcome his alcoholism. Obviously, hes still a capable performer, with Bridges doing a fine job warbling the T-Bone Burnett songs composed for his character. As a result, CRAZY HEART is a much more hopeful film than THE WRESTLER, as Blakes got a real shot at redemption, which is something poor Randy The Ram never really had.
As Blake, Id be tempted to say that Bridges delivers his best performance in years. However, after taking a quick glance at Bridges IMDB page, I am stricken by the fact that Bridges has actually done lots of good work over the last few years, so this cant really be called any kind of comeback, as he hasnt really been anywhere. Nevertheless, hes great- but really, would you expect anything less from The Dude?
Supporting Bridges is the lovely Maggie Gyllenhaal, who, despite their enormous age difference, has great chemistry with Bridges, making their on-screen romance easier to swallow than I anticipated. You get the feeling that shes playing a gal who hasnt had a whole lot of luck with the men in her life. In many ways, it seems like her attraction to the obviously unreliable Blake is somewhat self-destructive, but Gyllenhaal still never lacks our sympathy.
Other than Bridges and Gyllenhaal, CRAZY HEART also features a couple of heavy-hitters in supporting roles, with Colin Farrell, and Robert Duvall both popping up in tiny parts. Duvall also produced the film, and only has a few minutes of screen-time, but, as always, I got a kick out of seeing him, and he truly does feel like the type of guy that would belong in Blakes world. As for Farrell, he does very nice work as Blakes protégé turned superstar benefactor. He pulls off great southern accent, and also displays a surprisingly strong singing voice in his numbers with Bridges. Ive said it once, and Ill say it again; Farrells the real deal, and easily one of the best actors to come along in the last decade.
The only area that CRAZY HEART really falters is towards the conclusion, which, despite striking a nicely bittersweet tone, seems a little too easy compared to what weve seen for the last two hours. Blakes redemption seems rushed, softening the films impact somewhat.
Still, CRAZY HEART is a damn fine flick anchored by incredible performances, and rich, authentic atmosphere and dialogue courtesy of writer-director Scott Cooper (although it should be noted that CRAZY HEART is actually an adaptation of a novel by Thomas Cobb). Sure, its no WRESTLER, but what is?
CLICK IMAGE TO OPEN GALLERY & SEE MORE PICS...