Crazy Heart presents itself as one of those small movies that can be so endearing, an anti-blockbuster that grows on you — a “slice-of-life” picture — and the kind of film that frequently gets rewarded at the Oscars, if not the box office. Well, Jeff Bridges has his Oscar now, and I have two hours of tedium to show for it.
You have to really, really like Bridges to endure this movie. And I’ve always been a Bridges fan. Since I first noticed him in 1974, stealing a movie (Thunderbolt and Lightfoot) from Clint Eastwood, Bridges went on to play one of my favorite movie villains (the sleek, sophisticated Jack Forrester in Jagged Edge), favorite space aliens (Starman) and, of course, the role with which he’s now most associated, “The Dude” in The Big Lewbowski.
Bridges is good, but not spectacular, in Crazy Heart. The problem is the movie itself, which is as flat as the desert landscape his character, washed-up singer Bad Blake, drives, drinks, and smokes his way through. Nothing happens in this movie. Blake gets drunk and sings a mournful song about his past. He drinks some more and sings some more. He meets a woman he likes. He loses her.
At one point, it appeared that writer-director Scott Cooper was setting up a Rocky-like scenario: has-been country artist gets payback on the upstart whose career he helped launch. But when we meet the young ingrate (Colin Farrell), he turns out to be not such a bad guy. Farrell is wasted in this movie, as are Maggie Gyllenhaal as a saintly single mother, and Robert Duvall as Blake’s longtime buddy.
Crazy Heart is like one of Bad Blake’s self-indulgent, drunken escapades: the sooner forgotten, the better. Grade: D+
Director: Scott Cooper Cast: Jeff Bridges, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Colin Farrell, Beth Grant, Robert Duvall Release: 2009
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