Last year, Mickey Rourke played a rundown, old profession wrestler that was past his prime, his own worst enemy and a tragic anti-hero in The Wrestler. The role won him several awards and put life back into his dead career. In Crazy Heart, Jeff Bridges plays a rundown, old professional country singer that is past his prime, his own worst enemy and a tragic anti-hero. So far Bridges has won several awards for this as well, including the Golden Globe. If you think these movies sound VERY similar it's because they are. They are the same type of story, directed the same type of way and written with the same gritty dialogue...and damnit, it's still effective as hell. Crazy Heart did to me what The Wrestler did and that was make me care about a subject I don't care about. I have zero interest in Country Music. I don't like it. It doesn't like me. But Bridges' character, who is a near 60-year-old chain smoking alcoholic named Bad Blake, is a world away from Rourke's Randy the Ram wrestler. Bad Blake is a likable, charismatic guy who made some bad choices in his life but none of them make you, as a viewer, angry. He's the kind of guy that you'd want to buy a drink and listen to his stories, even after he broke your heart. Jeff Bridges plays this part beautifully and so subtly, you'd think it was based on someone he knew. I've always been a fan of his and I'm glad he's finally getting the credit he deserves as an actor. (I still think he got slighted for playing The Dude in the greatest comedy of all time The Big Lebowski.) The craft that comes out on the screen is hypnotic and wonderful no matter what Bridges is doing, even when he's throwing up in a toilet or fingering Maggie Gyllenhaal...not sure which is more disturbing actually. Every mumbled syllable that comes out of his mouth is like a mystic cliffhanger; you're not sure if you should laugh, cry or just listen in case some old timey country wisdom plops out. (I even found myself enjoying the music he sings all himself too.) I'm not sure how much of that is Bridges or the script, which was written by the first-time-director, Scott Cooper. I get the impression that a lot of what made it on the screen was improvised, but I'm really not sure. Cooper's direction isn't bad. He does what he could with the limited budget the film had. He captures the infinite desert sky with the same beauty that Ang Lee did in Brokeback Mountain. However he also does a poor job of making me believe certain scenes are of concerts in front of 12,000 people. I know he didn't have the budget for it but geez man, it looks pretty amateurish to just fill a few rows and then hope we can't see past bright lights in our eyes. It really doesn't matter though. The movie isn't about that, or the script, or even the other actors in it. Sure Gyllenhaal, Robert Duval and an uncredited Colin Farrel (wowing with a fake Southern accent) are great and fun to watch, but it's all about Bridges. He's the star, the reason to watch and the reason he'll hopefully win the Oscar...finally.
Crazy Heart (Rated R)
Gavin Grade: A-