D/W: Scott Cooper. DP: Barry Markowitz. Starring: Jeff Bridges/Maggie Gyllenhaal/Colin Farrell/James Keane/Robert Duvall/ (NOTE: Based on Thomas Cobb’s novel of the same name).
Already abuzz with Oscar whispers, Jeff Bridges falls convincingly into Crazy Heart‘s main man Bad Blake who drinks more than he sings. And as he continuously drinks the money out of his pockets, he drives around the country peeing in bottles and singing in dive bars. Oscar worthy?
Unfortunately for Bridges, Crazy Heart brings nothing new to the musical bio-pic genre (making note that Bad Blake is a fictional musician). All the songs are either sung on stage or in a private moment with his guitar. Making the film’s music completely woven into the film’s diegesis, and easing any audience member’s mind (even though this film is still technically a musical).
The story line is even easy. The washed up country man living in the past is not only a thin concept, but one that limits Bridges’ to a character whose only real journey is to sober land. A journey catalyzed by Miss Gyllenhaal’s Jean who lounges on screen as her usual interesting self, but remains so minimal to the story one must ask why bother?
Why bother too with Colin Farrell rolling in as Tommy Sweet, the novice star Bridges’ cultivated moons ago. As usual Farrell tilts his head and looks at everyone through thick dark eyebrows and seems a little lost within an American country film. Cooper seems a bit lost here as well. His obvious devotion the project (he wrote, produced and directed this piece) threw him into a story whose original content was nothing original.
Of course, the musical performances are great, with great original songs written by T-Bone Burnett and Stephen Bruton. With Bridges’ even showing off his own guitar skills and a droll of a country twang that authenticates his cowboy hat and greasy veneer. He hardly plays out a full song though, which actually works well here as the film centers more on Bridges’ mess of a life than mess of a career. Yet that messy life leads into random tangents that never fully sympathize the audience with him.
But in the end Bridges’ is never looking for sympathy, just a better road to go down than the one that lead him the last 57 years. So maybe sit back, reflect, enjoy the New Mexico landscape and be thankful substances don’t run your life or ruin your talent.