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-