Crazy Heart—Movie

Jeff Bridges, you had me at “I want to talk about how bad you make this room look.” A mere 15 minutes or so into Crazy Heart, Jeff Bridges’ Bad Blake speaks that one sentence in the lowest of registers and makes me and Maggie Gyllenhaal’s character, Jean, fall in love with him.

Written and directed by Scott Cooper (based on a novel by Thomas Cobb), Crazy Heart is the story of hard-drinking, hard-living, and somehow still hard-working country singer, Bad Blake. Once a renowned  and beloved singer/songwriter, very similar it would seem to Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson, Blake has fallen on hard times, singing in bowling alleys and honky-tonk bars in the southwest. It’s at one of these gigs in Santa Fe that he meets journalist Jean Craddock and is soon taken with the much younger mother of a  4-year old son and she with him. It’s also in Santa Fe that he hears from his manager about performing as the opening act for former protégée and now big-time singer, Tommy Sweet (an unbilled Colin Farrell). Begrudgingly he accepts and when he performs with Sweet we can see, despite the smoking and drinking, he’s still got it…but for how long?

Jeff Bridges is absolutely astonishing as Bad Blake. He really seems to embody this man. It’s a heart-breaking performance. And his chemistry with Gyllenhaal and her son (Jack Nation) is palpable. Gyllenhaal as Jean, so afraid of giving her heart to yet another mistake, really shines. And Robert Duval provides a crackling performance as Blake’s now sober, no-nonsense father.

The original music, by Stephen Bruton (who died in May 2009) and T-Bone Burnett, is fantastic and spot on. As a performer, Jeff Bridges is amazing. Who knew he could sing and play guitar? Also more than equal to the singing challenge and very believable is Colin Farrell.

Crazy Heart is a must-see movie.  Jeff Bridges, always great in every movie he’s in (check out The Men Who Stare at Goats—he steals every scene) deserves all the accolades he’s getting for this one.  Seek this movie out.

3 ½ nuggets out of 4

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