Crazy Heart review
by Tim Hogg
Jeff Bridges has become the Hollywood face of the American story. His latest masterpiece, Crazy Heart, is sure to pick up a few more awards as it makes it way to the Academy Awards this month. This film has been around for the last several months, playing at a local arthouse theater or two until recently. Very much like the character, Bad Blake, this film is making a comeback that no really saw coming. Same thing goes for Bridges, who has had his ups and downs as much as the fictitious country legend, Blake.
What makes this film work so well is that Bridges knows his characters and its audience. This character is not much different than the role he is best known for, one Jeffery Lebowski. Bridges plays that character that we all know but don’t see often enough, the guy who didn’t become the shining star, but rather the guy who simply keeps on keeping on. Bridges plays Bad Blake, a washed up, drunken country legend that might be playing at your local bowling alley and you would never know. Blake has been moved off the mainstream concert circuit to the local dive bar, making enough money to gas up his 1978 Suburban and his kidney with enough booze to make it to the next stop, barely.
Although this is a story we have all heard before (and know that it exists every night at a local seedy motel near you) what makes this work is Bridges ability to show the soft touch in each character that he plays. This story is not about the mistakes that Blake made or the joint torch that glowed so brightly for Lebowski, it’s about the human being that is evident in all of these characters. Mistakes were made, but at some point, Blake has no choice but to make amends with the demons that haunt him.
The only problem with this wonderful film is the character played by Maggie Glyllenhaal. In every Hollywood film, there always has to a woman. No surprise there. Gyllenhaal’s character is the interview for a small town paper who wants to crack the story behind the legend. They quickly fall in love to move the storyline along, but her character is irrational, forcing a checkmate to Bad’s drinking and meandering ways. In the end, she rejects him, but not because of what he’s done or who he is but more so because she has found someone else. This is an extreme letdown for the film, which would have been much better off simply allowing her to have the strength to not put her young son through the future turmoils of a man who has no home except the long stretch of the long, lonely open road. Regardless, there are some pure lovely moments in the telling of this story and I do hope it gets the recognition it deserves. Don’t wait for this one to go to video– it’s worth a look on the big screen for the stunning imagery that is the Southwest.