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Flicks - Crazy Heart
Crazy Heart 10/02/04 2:21
Flicks - Crazy Heart
There's pleasure in watching Jeff Bridges inhabit the character of an aging, alcoholic country singer in Crazy Heart. In Crazy Heart, Jeff Bridges plays an aging country singer-songwriter named Bad Blake. Blake is an alcoholic, and it seems to be no coincidence that his career has declined to where he's playing bowling alleys and bars in obscure places. He hasn't written a song in several years, and his star has been eclipsed by a younger singer whom he originally taught named Tommy Sweet, and played in a sort of cameo by Colin Farrell. Shortly after the movie opens, Blake is doing a gig in Santa Fe when he grants an interview with a journalist named Jean, played by Maggie Gyllenhaal, and soon they're in a relationship, and the country singer is doting on Jean's 4-year-old son. Inevitably, though, Blake's dependence on the bottle poses a threat to his newfound love.
The film is the first directorial effort by the character actor Scott Cooper, and he managed to get T. Bone Burnett on board to write the songs, which work very well. The picture is a relaxed, good-natured, rambling affair, with nothing that special or unpredictable about the story, but what is special is, of course, Jeff Bridges, a respected and reliable presence in films for forty years. The role is a perfect fit for him. Bad Blake, as embodied in Bridges' performance, is lovable, talented, cranky, undependable, and even deceitful. Sometimes his resemblance to Kris Kristofferson is uncanny, and probably intended, and Bad Blake's story also bears some comparison to Merle Haggard and Waylon Jennings. There is no vanity in the performance, which requires his character to experience a certain amount of defeat and humiliation, and it's always pleasurable to watch Bridges absorbed in his craft. When he's joined on screen by Robert Duvall, as an old bartender buddy and mentor, the film becomes delightfully funny.
Crazy Heart doesn't try to hit the high notes, or go down too far for the low ones. If you find yourself wondering what it was all about afterwards, it's because the story isn't so much the point as just spending time inside a particular point of view—the melancholy and romantic viewpoint of old-time country music, in which flawed men and women try to make something of their lives, sometimes succeed, and often fail. It's a movie about a mood, and it does a pretty good job, with the help of some fine acting, to create that mood.