The Wrestler, if Randy “Ram” Robinson played the guitar.
When reporter Jean Craddock (Maggie Gyllenhaal) interviews Bad Blake (Jeff Bridges) — an alcoholic, seen-better-days country music legend — they connect, and the hard-living crooner sees a possible saving grace in a life with Jean and her young son. But can he leave behind an existence playing in the shadow of Tommy (Colin Farrell), the upstart kid he once mentored?
This was a film that back in the day, I didn’t really appreciate so much. But thanks to HBO, I thought why the hell not! But still, not much is that different since the first time around.
The whole story here is pretty generic. It all starts off as this old, has-been entertainer, who drinks a lot, treats his guitar better than his women, and doesn’t seem to make any good choice. However, there’s light at the end of the tunnel because he soon finds someone that he loves and then his life starts to look up. But all of this is pretty predictable, and you can’t help but know throughout the whole film, just how this film is going to turn out. I’ve seen this story time and time before, and although this wasn’t as bad as others, I still found myself a little annoyed with nothing different here.
First time writer/director Scott Cooper does an alright job here in his debut flick, but you can tell it’s a rookie behind that camera. I like how Cooper just let the music and the story speak for itself, but the film doesn’t really do much else. The pace is very uneven with some parts being actually emotionally raw, and then others terribly cliche. I wish the film did more interesting things with this familiar premise, but it was decent at times.
Also, I’m not a huge lover of country music, but I must say this film actually had me tapping my feet to the country music here. I liked how a lot of the real stars in this movie did their own voices for this film, and they actually all sound good. There are some good songs that work, and might just have you humming the tune when it’s over. I know I was.
The real highlight of this film here is that man up top. Jeff Bridges plays Bad Blake here and is basically outstanding. Bridges plays Bad Blake with all that signature coolness that he has, but also with a great emotional depth into his character that has you actually believe that this guy is as messed up as he’ll have you believe. He can be an asshole, with his non-stop drinking, but we are still somehow rooting for him all the way throughout. I was glad that Cooper kept the film on him basically the whole time, cause without him, I don’t think I would have been to get through certain scenes. Bridges deserved that Oscar not only for this, but for also the legend that he really and truly is.
Maggie Gyllenhaal is good here as Jean, but her character is almost too sensible to fall for an old, washed-up drunk like Blake. It’s not to say her performance isn’t good here, because she is very strong, but there’s just not enough in this script to have you believe that she could actually falls for this guy, it happens almost way too fast. Also, that age gap between them, was a little too creepy for me to watch sometimes. There’s also some nice little side spots from Robert Duvall, and randomly Colin Farrell. This was really surprising to see him here, because I just thought it was an odd choice for a country singer/superstar, but he does it well, and actually has a good voice for the music here.
Consensus: The story is very generic, and times a little too unbelievable but the rich performances, especially from Jeff Bridges, and the awesome country music, make Crazy Heart an uneven, but ultimately satisfying story.
I saw this last year in the theaters and thought it was really good. I was really surprised by Colin Farrell’s cameo which confirmed my newfound love for the guy at the time.
Being a big Maggie Gyllenhaal fan, I thought she was really good though it wasn’t one of my favorites. I was surprised that she got nominated for an Oscar though I felt she should’ve been nominated for other films like Secretary, Happy Endings, and Stranger Than Fiction.
I think she got nominated because it was a film that seemed like she had a lot to do with it. Overall, good film, just not amazing and nothing new.
Good review! Keep it up.
Thanks! I shall.
Yeah, I’m still not convinced on this one. I think the hype around this film was a little overblown, but I think at some stage I’m gonna have to sit down and give Mr Bridges my undivided attention.
It’s good mainly because of Bridges, but other than that it’s The Wrestler with country music.
Nice review. Pretty spot on I’d say. The movie I did find enjoyable, but was nothing special really and did feel a bit generic in a sense. As you mentioned, the real reason to watch this is Bridges’ performance. Great performance from him here. Couple that with a decent movie and it’s definitely worth a watch.
I agree with your comparison to The Wrestler above. Definitely pretty much the same movie. I felt The Wrestler was indeed the better movie, though. However, as I said, this one is worth a watch. Nothing great or special (other than Bridges’ performance) but enjoyable enough.
On a side note, head over to my blog to check out my Versatile Blogger post, Dan, as you get a plug there and an “award”. 😉
Nothing special, but an OK film because of Bridges. And I shall, thank you!
I’m definitely with you on your critiques. The movie was very slow and often showed the director’s incompetence behind a camera. Love your analogy that it’s The Wrestler with a guitar. Can’t believe I missed that. Nice review! And thanks for the feedback
Thanks! It’s so true though, but I still really did like this film none the less.
I was surprised when I heard Gyllenhaal was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her part in “Crazy Heart.” I’m a big fan of hers and believe she’s good in anything, but I don’t think she was THAT good.
Although I kind of think Colin Firth should have won the Oscar for “A Single Man,” Jeff Bridges did equally fine work in “Crazy Heart.” It’s hard to make a washed-up drunk a sympathetic figure, but Bridges did it.
As an aside, if you like Bridges, watch “The Door in the Floor” — I think it’s one of his best performances ever.