“Crazy Heart” Is Career-Affirming Role for Jeff Bridges
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
Yes, I think Jeff Bridges should get the golden statuette for Best Actor in this year’s Academy Awards race. Not for his humorous turn in the satiric “The Men Who Stare at Goats,” but for his soul-bearing performance as a down-and-out country singer named Bad Blake in a melancholy but sweet little film called “Crazy Heart.”
This sharply etched portrait is currently playing at the Tropic Cinema.
Hard to believe this was originally intended to be a direct-to-video throwaway flick. But Bridges’ performance transcended the genre.
The story is not a new one: A singer-songwriter who never made the big time, despite his legendary reputation. Instead his protégé, a country star named Tommy Sweet (well played by Colin Farrell), gets the stadium tours and big bucks. Meanwhile, our old-timer travels the southwest in his oil-burning old clunker, playing his songs in bowling alleys and bars, lost an ever-present alcoholic haze.
Along the way he meets a young reporter (Maggie Gyllenhaal), a single mother who knows better than fall for on old reprobate like Bad Blake, but does so anyway. Will it end badly? Even with the helping hand of an old friend (Robert Duvall), Bad Blake is not a guy who’s likely to keep on the straight-and-narrow.
Duvall, along with real-life songwriter T-Bone Burnett, helped produce this musical journey. T-Bone wrote the movie’s songs, but Jeff Bridges and Colin Farrell do their own singing.
If the story seems familiar, maybe it’s because Duvall already plowed this ground in 1983’s “Tender Mercies,” where he played a down-on-his-luck country singer wooing a wary-but-good woman.
Director Scott Cooper started off wanting to do a biopic about country music legend Merle Haggard, but discovering that the film rights were too expensive settled on a fictional character from a book by Thomas Cobb.
Bridges gives a performance that has been called “half Big Lebowski, half Urban Cowboy meets The Wrestler.”
His film persona has been described as “rambling, reckless, rascally and usually unpredictable.” Bad Blake fits that mold, as if all the others roles were merely rehearsals for this career-affirming performance.
The son of veteran actor Lloyd Bridges and brother of character actor Beau Bridges, Jeff has been nominated four times for an Academy Award but never won. First time was for his semi-debut film role in “The Last Picture Show.”
Obviously, that wasn’t Jeff Bridges’ last picture show. Now seventy-some movies later, this may be the one that plays the right tune.
[from Solares Hill]