Originally Reviewed – 2/8/2010
For me, January is one of the best months for movies. While many fans yearn for the thrills of summer blockbusters, I always like getting a chance to see as many prestige movies as I can before the Oscars. The problem with this is that many films get over-hyped as the Oscar buzz gets louder and louder. One of my favorite films from last year, Slumdog Millionaire fell to victim to this…the movie was great, but it wasn’t the life changing event the buzz was making it out to be. Crazy Heart, especially the performance of Jeff Bridges, has fallen to that kind of buzz. Would the film live up to it? Read on to find out!
Written and directed by first timer Scott Cooper, Crazy Heart is the emotional, at times humorous and inspirational story of a broken down country singer, played by Jeff Bridges, who in touring the many bowling alleys and dive bars of the Southwestern United States, tries to rebuild his crumbling life. Along the way he encounters a young reporter, played by Maggie Gyllenhaal, her adorable son and his protégé who’s now more famous than him, played by Colin Farrell. The cast does a nice job of keeping the story moving but the performance of Jeff Bridges is the shining light of the film and keeps the film from slipping into mediocrity.
As far as Jeff Bridges is concerned, this is truly one of the landmark performances of his career. While many critics have been comparing Bridge’s hard drinking, hard living character to last year’s The Wrestler, to me there is no comparison. Where Mickey Rourke was essentially playing an extension of himself, Bridges reached out and created a character with true emotional depth. The character of Bad Blake, while seeped in the depths of alcoholism, womanizing and a career going nowhere, is a sympathetic one. Bridges balances his character’s cocky western swagger with a surprisingly sweet side that enriches the film as a whole. Bridges more than deserves his Best Actor Golden Globe and will most likely win himself an Oscar come February.
The rest of the film does a fine job of moving the story along, which, while it’s a touch thin, holds together thanks to the fine performances of the cast. The dialogue is crisp and witty, the direction tells the story in a well paced manner and the cinematography captures the beautiful vistas of the Southwest with grace and beauty. The music in the film is also noteworthy as it’s truly excellent and evocative in a way that only old school country can be.
In the end, Crazy Heart more than deserves the buzz and accolades its been receiving since its release last month. Despite a thin story and a less than believable relationship between Gyllenhaal and Bridges, the strength of the Bad Blake character and the man behind him elevates this film to must see status.
Score – 80%