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Crazy Heart (2009)

January 18, 2010

VERDICT:
7/10 Good Ol’ Boys

It’s The Wrestler with country music. That’s what they call a double-edged sword. 

Crazy Heart is about an aging country singer/songwriter trying to reclaim the spotlight before his booze addiction gets the better of him and ruins not only his career, but the only good thing he’s got going – a suspect relationship with a much younger music reporter.

I guess the best place to start is the whole Wrestler comparison. As far as the story arc is concerned, the two movies practically mirror each other. It starts out with the endearing has-been trying to recapture his former glory, he falls for a single mother who is oddly attracted to the said has-been, things start to look good, things hit the skids due to health problems, the has-been tries to make it all better in one last hurrah, the rest is history. If you’ve never seen The Wrestler, you’ve got nothing to worry about and you’ll probably like this movie more for it. But for those of you who have seen The Wrestler, this is pretty familiar territory we’re dealing with, and, unfortunately, The Wrester did it better.

Still a pretty decent story, but the story’s not the selling point here. The selling point, dear readers, is my man Jeff Bridges as Bad Blake.

What Mickey Rourke was to “The Ram“, Jeff Bridges follows suit as Bad. I’ve always been a huge Bridges fan (can’t wait for Tron Legacy) and it’s great to see him get a big leading role like this that finally allows him to flaunt his skills. In a nutshell, Bad is a badass, and it doesn’t hurt that his name is “Bad” either. He’s old country all the way, none of that pretty boy Keith Urban or glorified hillbilly, boot-in-your-ass Toby Keith bullshit, he’s the real deal. He’s Kris Kristofferson (visual similarity maybe?) and Johnny Cash rolled into one, he drinks like it’s going out of style, and for all his flaws, he is cool as hell.

I think a lot of what makes Bridges so good here is that Bad’s character really suits Bridges’ effortlessly natural sensibilities as an actor. That’s what made him so good as The Dude; it was like he wasn’t even trying, he just was The Dude. Bridges is a likable guy in that regard and without it I think Bad would have been a far less interesting individual to place at the forefront of a movie. It’s one of the better roles he’s had the chance to play in a good while and if it weren’t for Colin Firth, he’d be my vote for Best Actor this year.

And being someone who utterly hates country music – exceptions for Cash and Hank Williams, of course – the music here is awfully damn good and instantly had me tapping my foot on the theater floor. With that being said, the soundtrack by T-Bone Burnett (the guy behind the O Brother, Where Are Thou? soundtrack) is definitely the other selling point here and I’d be surprised if it didn’t get the credit it deserves. 

But alas, there’s still the whole issue of Bad’s relationship with Maggie Gyllenhaal. I know it’s a movie, but come on, look at those two, it’s like a Maury episode. She’s pretty good in the role, it’s just hard to suspend your disbelief with the glaring age gap staring you in the face along with Bad’s insistence on destroying his body with bottle after bottle of whiskey which really isn’t doing any favors for his physical appearance either. And while I’m sure there are women out there who probably think Kris Kristofferson makes Tom Brady look like a homeless meth freak, I’m thinking those women are few and far between.

There’s also a really good cameo by Robert Duvall as Bad’s long-time friend and another far more confusing cameo by Colin Farrell as Bad’s former protege’. Duvall can do no wrong, but I don’t know who the hell drew a connection between Colin Farrell and country music. It’s not that he’s bad in the role, he’s actually A-okay and he’s got a good voice to boot, just a strange casting choice is all.

But hey, it’s still a pretty good movie. Bridges is great to watch as always and he makes the movie better than it probably should be. Not something you need to run out to see in theaters and it’s no Walk the Line, but even if you’re not into country music, there’s enough to good stuff going on here to warrant a solid 7.

Tron Legacy, gonna be so awesome.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 18, 2010 12:48 pm

    Bridges is one of the best actors in the best and I’m just finally glad he got the recognition for once.

  2. January 18, 2010 9:28 pm

    Outstanding review. The film is a little too run-of-the-mill if not for Jeff Bridges brilliant portrayal and you are on the money wondering why Maggie’s Gyllenhaal character would even be interested in Bad Blake. The moment she started kissing him, I was like Whaaat? why did she do that? It came out of nowhere.

  3. mcarteratthemovies permalink
    February 3, 2010 2:43 pm

    Best line in your whole review: “none of that pretty boy Keith Urban or glorified hillbilly, boot-in-your-ass Toby Keith bullshit.” You, sir, are a man who gets what REAL country music is all about!

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