Running Time: 112 minutes
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Colin Farrell, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Robert Duvall
Directed By: Scott Cooper
Rating: 8 out of 10
A former country star travels from low paying gig to low paying gig trying to recapture his former glory.
This movie made me want to go out and buy a Stetson hat and a guitar. Okay I won’t go that far, but Jeff Bridges made it look pretty cool to be a cowboy in this one. I am not sure why stories about flawed leading characters are always so compelling. Seeing someone down on their luck from addiction or personal tragedy seems to have the most appeal to me. It could be that you want them to succeed when things are so bleak. It could also be a reminder that no matter how bad things get there is always hope. No matter the case this film is a beauty and you won’t want to miss it. Crazy Heart is the story of Bad Blake. He is a faded country music star travelling the country trying to recapture his past glory. In this journey he must battle the evils of addiction that are ruining his health, career, and his love life.
This is a film that a viewer can truly get lost in. I don’t mean it is hard to follow, what I mean is the story is so real and Bad Blake is so cool that the movie just flies by. You get lost in the whirlwind of emotions that this story will take you on. The film starts out and we are blessed to see this former country star living day to day and from gig to gig. He stays in rundown motels and drives his shitbox of a car cross country, playing at different venues to make ends meet. He is broke, washed up, tired, and drunk most of the time. The film is really just a reflection of how stardom can be fleeting and how sometimes even the best can be knocked down if they don’t stay sharp and submit to their demons. The music is fantastic even if you aren’t a country music fan (I am not but really dug the music). An older man who knows nothing else but his music is a powerful story when he has given literally everything important up to play it.
Bad Blake is played by Jeff Bridges and this maybe his finest role. His best role will always be from the Big Lebowski but this is his finest. He plays this brash, chain smoking, whiskey swilling, down on his luck man to perfection. Was it worth the Oscar for Best Actor? Absolutely, and this film would not have worked without this performance. He is this charming older man and even though he has ruined his own life through bad decisions and drink you are rooting for him. He has such character that you want him to get clean and get a second shot at fame. His gravelly singing/voice also adds to this performance and it was as if he completely morphed into this character. He is supported on screen by Maggie Gyllenhaal and Colin Farrell, and they provide solid performances by letting Bridges work his magic. Truly the performances were all great in this film.
So this movie carries on and you get to follow Bad Blake through all his ups and downs. You get to see that his popularity is still there as small time bands want to play with him and people still buy him drinks. You get to see how he is slowly dying as he abuses his body on a daily basis. His pursuit of recapturing his former success is not only believable but chilling in its intensity. You never know which Blake is going to show up to play each night and although you will enjoy his music you will also hate him for not sobering up to fix his life. Why the film works so well is in the fact his life is always on a precipice. It could swing to the left and he could easily die and it could swing to the right and he could be a star again. It always has you hanging there right in the middle. As the end comes about it seems to fit perfectly with the rest of the films darker theme and it doesn’t ruin it with some unbelievable or fantastical Hollywood ending. Truly this is a great movie and Bridges just kills in this role.
This is director Scott Cooper’s debut film and man did he bring it. This film plays out almost like a country and western song. It is filled with trials and tribulations that seem to plague only the country singers of America. Cooper cast perfectly and he lets Bridges steal the show in all the right places. The pacing is fantastic and the film has a perfect amount of story to song. The film takes you on a journey of self worth and the power of human spirit and truly was one of the best films of 2009. This was a treat and I can’t wait until Cooper’s next film to see if he can recapture the magic.
I give this movie a big recommendation, especially to people who appreciate great acting performances.
T Factor + If you like country movies then this could score higher on the rating scale.
T Factor – If you do not like slow built up dramas then this could score lower on the rating scale.
If you liked this film reel recommendations: Walk the Line, Country Strong.