Crazy Heart is not the sort of film I would go to the cinema to watch. A film about an alcoholic country music singer/songwriter who was once famous but is now playing small bars is more of my dad’s thing; if it wasn’t for Jeff Bridges finally getting his Oscar after all this time, I could easily have waited for this to arrive on DVD or even television.
The story is not exceptional – Bridges is Bad Blake, going through life with no connections, drinking, having casual sex, no contact with the son he had with his first (of many) wives, angry with life. After he crashes his car, the doctor tells him that he has to stop drinking and smoking and lose weight, but he continues living the same way until a woman (Maggie Gyllenhaal) comes into his life. Love seems to be turning Blake around but when he manages to lose Gyllenhaal’s young son in a mall, the relationship ends and Blake realises he has to change his life, going into rehab with the help of his old friend (Robert Duvall). He turns his life around by writing songs for a now famous country music star (Colin Farrell), whom Blake used to mentor. It’s a very formulaic narrative, only made watchable by the acting.
Jeff Bridges is always good – everyone knows that, right? Whatever film he is in, he will be good, so I expect that from him. So Bridges is very good in this, but I’m not sure if it’s worthy of an Oscar. It is impressive that he sings the songs himself; he sounds really good, and I’m sure that they are good songs if you like that sort of thing. However, like Al Pacino, Bridges was rewarded for his body of work rather than the particular role/film. The supporting cast is good as well – Gyllenhaal is excellent in a role that could have been much less, and an uncredited Farrell is very good as the younger star (and seems to be channelling the look of my oldest friend with the ponytail and dark shirt with the top two buttons undone). The director, Scott Cooper, is a former actor so it’s understandable that the film is about the performances rather than the story; he adapted a novel into a script that allows the stars to do their thing. However, he does an accomplished job and the film looks lovely, capturing the light of New Mexico and the intimacy of the actors.
The film is good, but it didn’t need the visit to the cinema. Bridges is entertaining as always, but the film (which was originally intended to go straight to DVD) is nothing extraordinary apart from some fine performances.