Film Review: “Crazy Heart”

This weekend, I had a chance to sit down and actually watch a film without fighting with Maya over the Xbox.  She’s hooked on a game right now, so the TV gets hogged by her, leaving Julie and myself watching late night Gilmore Girls episodes on DVD and wondering why there isn’t anything good on TV anymore. We’re probably going through Lost withdrawals, so really it’s about us not trying out new shows.  Anyway, I decided to rent a film on iTunes and while they have slim pickings in terms of selection, there are some good films in their library.

After Jeff Bridges won the Academy Award for Crazy Heart, I wanted to see the movie, but haven’t had any opportunities — until I rented it on iTunes.  I can see why Bridges’ performance is so highly regarded.  He really looks the part of a washed-out, alcoholic former country western star, and he makes me believe this loser of a guy has very few redeeming qualities.  He drinks, he smokes, he’s rude to the people he comes in contact with (unless he wants something like booze), he’s withdrawn when not on stage, he’s depressed, and he is, in the kindest possible way, an utter shit of human being.  Why should I, as a viewer, care about this guy? I don’t.  And that, in a nutshell, is my biggest problem with Crazy Heart. Bridges is brilliant as “Bad” Blake, but I’m supposed to care about him because he was great once; because he was a huge country western star who wrote amazing and enduring songs that touch people’s lives.  But now?  Well, like I said, he’s a washed-up alcoholic who still plays gigs around the southwest in glamorous places like dive bars and bowling alleys.  He stays in cheap motels, mostly drink all day, gigs at night (and sometimes has to leave the stage to go and throw up), sleeps it off in the motel, and then drives to the next gig in a beat up Chevy Suburban.  It’s the unglamorous life of an itinerant musician that we’ve seen before, but you see it’s tragic because Bad was one of the great ones.

Add to that, a love story wherein  his paramour (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is more than half his age and you get a kind of “eeewww, gross” factor at seeing the two of them kiss on screen.  But it’s because he meets Gyllenhaal that he tries to turn his life around, but can’t quite do it until she leaves him after he loses her 4 year old son at a mall when he steps into a bar to grab a quick drink with the boy. Don’t worry, the boy is found, but Bridges and Gyllenhaal’s relationship is pretty much over.  But the incident does spur Bridges to get help with his drinking, reconnect with a music partner, and start writing songs again.

It’s not the most original story (in fact it’s a fairly worn storyline), but see Crazy Heart for Jeff Bridges’ performance where, in addition to being convincingly drunk in 90% of the film, he sings his own songs.  One of the more memorable ones is “Fallin’ & Flyin’ “(Download).  By the way, this version of the song is taken directly from the film and is not the version on the soundtrack.  Enjoy!

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