Directed by: Scott Cooper
And starring: Jeff Bridges, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Colin Farrell, Robert Duvall
“Crazy Heart,” which tells the story of a washed-up country singer, has the power to turn the biggest country music detractor into its biggest fan. With its emotional performances and songs, this small film is able to make a big impact.
“Crazy Heart” stars Jeff Bridges as Bad Blake, a country singer who is past his prime. Instead of headlining arenas and selling millions, he is strumming his guitar in dive bars and writing songs for other artists (namely Tommy Sweet, played by Colin Farrell). After one of these dive bar performances, Bad meets with Jean Craddock (Maggie Gyllenhaal), who interviews him for a Santa Fe, N.M.-based newspaper. As the interview continues, Jean and Bad learn more about each other and, predictably, start a rocky relationship. As Bad continues to attempt a comeback, he has to try to make his relationship with Jean work and deal with his increasingly problematic alcoholism.
By far the standout of this film, Jeff Bridges has already received many accolades for his performance, having won both the Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards. The actor made the film what it is. Without him, the movie would have just meandered along through a tired plot line. Bridges’ performance was captivating and emotional. He made it easy for us to sympathize with this otherwise unsympathetic character. Bad was a womanizing alcoholic whose career had all but disappeared, yet Bridges was able to inject him with life and make his turnaround believable.
Although not as riveting, the supporting performances were also very strong. Gyllenhaal’s turn as the divorced journalist with a 4-year-old son was powerful and emotional, while Colin Farrell proves his acting chops as the successful ex-protégé of Bad’s. What pushes this film over the top is the music, especially the Golden Globe-winning “The Weary Kind.” Even if you are not a country music fan, this music will speak to you. It is haunting, emotional and fun.
Frequently deemed this year’s “The Wrestler,” “Crazy Heart” does suffer from a lack of original plot. It tells the story of a down-and-out, previously successful performer who struggles to regain his prominence in the world. It may be the movie’s one downfall. That, of course, doesn’t mean that the movie isn’t entertaining in its own right. Thankfully, though, the performances and music do save it.
In the end, “Crazy Heart” is really Bridges’ film. His emotional performance pumps life into the overdone story. Gyllenhaal, Farrell and the music may not be as exceptional, but they certainly add spice. “Crazy Heart” is captivating, emotional and certainly deserves its accolades and your attention.