The Flick Chicks

Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Crazy Heart

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Crazy Heart  -  Bridges Is Great Playing “Bad”

By Judy Thorburn
The Flick Chick


Jeff Bridges, one of my favorite actors and one of the most respected and talented actors in Hollywood has been nominated several times in the past for his excellent work, but has never won.  If his win at both the Critics Choice Awards, the Golden Globes and SAG (Screen Actors Guild) Awards is any indicator, then the 60 year old veteran actor is practically a shoo in to walk away with the most coveted best actor award for 2009, the Oscar which so far has eluded him, for his authentic, moving performance in actor turned director/writer Scott Cooper's noteworthy debut film, Crazy Heart, based on the novel by Thomas Cobb.  

Bridges (channeling Kris Kristofferson) plays Bad Blake, a 57 year old washed up, country singer who drinks and smokes too much.  No longer the country superstar he once was, Blake, now overweight with an unkempt appearance, has found himself relegated to playing the likes of bowling alleys, roadhouses and bars, and having post gig one night stands with aging female fans.   “I used to be somebody, he reflects in a song. “Now I’m somebody else.”

Bad’s home base is in Houston, but he spends most of his time on the road traveling across the country from one gig to another in his old beat up Chevy truck without taking a hard look in the mirror and an account of his life that includes four ex wives and a grown son he didn’t raise and never got to know.  The key to his salvation/road to redemption is set in motion when he meets and falls for the much younger, Jean Craddock (an understated, credible performance by Maggie Gyllenhaal) a single mother with a four year old son, Buddy (Jack Nation) and a history of bad luck with men.  Bad first encounters Jean, a reporter for the Sun when she arrives at this motel door in Santa Fe for an interview.  Their relationship slowly but surely develops into a May-December romance and life changing inspiration for the broken man who attempts to make past wrongs right.

Irish actor Colin Farrell (seemingly miscast at first, he does make it work) plays Tommy Sweet, Bad’s former protégé who became a country superstar after learning the ropes from his mentor. Along with respect and admiration, Tommy feels he is in debt to Bad, whom he turns to for some new songs, a win win situation for both men.

Robert Duvall (who starred in the similar 1983 Oscar-winner Tender Mercies as an alcoholic, washed-up country singer) plays Houston bar owner, Wayne, Bad’s longtime, loyal friend.

While the story might be familiar, it is Jeff Bridges’ un-self conscious, genuine, effortless looking performance which carries the weight of the film. Bridges has always been the kind of actor that is comfortable in his own skin and inhabits any role in a most believable way, which makes him one of the best screen actors alive today.

Though he portrays a self destructive character in Crazy Heart, Bridges never lets us lose sight of the man's humanity and makes us care about him even when he is in a drunken stupor, running off stage to puke his guts out, or getting in trouble for being irresponsible.  

Besides Bridges, another draw, especially for country music fans is the many catchy and memorable songs and music written by T. Bone Burnett (O Brother, Where Art Thou?) and the late Stephen Bruton.  Bridges is given a chance to show off his talents on guitar and does his own singing, which is pretty darn good.

Whatever your preconceived notions are about this film, the bittersweet character study is bound to grab at your heart, thanks to Jeff Bridges who does an amazing job being “Bad”.