You do not have to be a fan of country music to enjoy Crazy Heart, a depressing story based on the novel by Thomas Cobb. The superb acting by Jeff Bridges and his character are entertaining enough. The storyline is nothing too spectacular but you cannot help but be enthralled with the main character. It is Scott Cooper first film as a director and he did it in only 24 days, I really hope it is not his last.
Bad Blake (Jeff Bridges) is no doubt a drunk, chain smoker and depressed man. The once legend country singer is now out of his prime. With little ambition he has, he plays in front of small bowling alley crowds of a few dozen. Bad Blake has so little money to his name that without his fame scoring him free alcohol, something that he is rarely without, he would not be able to pay for it.
While performing in Santa Fe, Bad Blake meets a newspaper journalist named Jean (Maggie Gyllenhaal). Instantly, you can tell Bad Blake is attracted to her. We see a completely different side of Bad Blake after only a few visits from his newfound interest. We see that if he tries, he can be quite charming. This is the closest Bad Blake has had to a real family.
Bad Blake then gets a call from his agent about a huge break, a chance to play in front of 12,000 people, but there is a catch. He is not the headliner but rather the opener. Oh, and it is for Tommy Sweet (Colin Farrell), a man he does not care for as they had a falling out in the past. Although he is reluctant, he accepts the gig.
Before the gig the two meet up at a restaurant. Tommy admits while signing an autograph that Bad Blake taught him everything he knows about country music and tells the fan he is not the one he should be getting the autograph of. At the same time that Tommy is being genuine, Bad Blake tells Tommy he is just doing this gig for the money, not for sentimental sake.
It is not long before Jean expresses her concern over Bad Blake’s alcoholism. He did not earn the nickname Bad for no reason. She tells him not to drink while in front of her son, although it is apparent she is worried about him drinking in general. Just as it seems his life could not get any better personally or professionally, he much over-come his self-destructive lifestyle.
Crazy Heart’s story is most definitely not unique, an old celebrity that is still clinging on to their fame, who hits rock bottom and tries to become somebody again. What makes this film so good is the character. As a viewer, you develop an unexplainable attraction to Bad Blake, whether it is out of empathy or otherwise, you find yourself rooting for him. The film also had a pretty firm emotion grip throughout and especially in a scene near the end that takes place in a mall.
Jeff Bridges has the sort of mumbling voice that works extremely well in his advantage in this role. And being the amazingly talented singer that he is, he was able to fit in perfectly. He plays it so well; it is hard to imagine any other actor that would come close to a performance as his. Maybe Philip Seymour Hoffman could but even then I have my doubts.
His performance did not go unnoticed though. He won an Oscar for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role and the Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead. The film did not stop there though; Maggie Gyllenhaal was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress and it won Best First Feature and Best First Screenplay at the Independent Spirit Awards.
Simply put Crazy Heart is an engaging film with incredible acting, amazing music that even a non-country lover can appreciate, with really only the only downfall being the film’s story is not groundbreaking. I thought the ending was honest and fair, although I could see some people being disappointed with it.