Peter Eramo Reviews “Crazy Heart”

For at least 15 years, I have been saying to those who will listen that Jeff Bridges is our most under-rated screen actor (alongside Kevin Kline) and with his performance in this film — and the many accolades that have been bestowed on him, I am afraid I won’t be able to say that anymore. Suffice it to say that I am enormous fan of his work. Here, his performance and the character of Bad Blake is what this film holds its cowboy hat on. In a word, Bridges is sensational and is deserving of every award he has received thus far, including the most prestigious — the Academy Award this past year. Not to dampen what he puts into his work/performance, but he looks so damn effortless doing it. He is Bad Blake, through and through — from his chain smoking, to his eating habits, his interaction with people, the way he wears his belt, his drinking — and of course, his singing. Bridges has a great country-western voice here and impresses with that as well. He grabs our attention and holds our empathy. Bad Blake has been down on his luck for sometime (he is his own worst enemy there), but we want him to succeed and beat the demons that have haunted him for a good number of years.

Surrounding the raw and gripping performance of Jeff Bridges is Colin Farrell — which is a very interesting choice here – playing the young and mega-successful musician who has learned everything he knows from the older, broken down Blake. Farrell is quite likeable here and does a fine job in his scenes with Bridges and on the stage singing as well. Maggie Gyllenhaal , who I usually have problems watching, is fine as the young and eager newspaper reporter and her rapport with Bridges works well…the chemistry is there – not a whole heck of a lot, but it’s there. Gyllenhaal is a good choice here, though I don’t believe she was worthy of the Oscar nod.

The music throughout the film is outstanding and I am no fan of this genre of music. The central song, Ryan Bingham’s The Weary Kind” is a great work that encapsulates the essence of Bad and the film. T-Bone Burnett’s score also works quite well, as is his usual. As it was shot in about 24 days, this is a grand independent achievement. It reminded me a lot of Nick Nolte and his terrific work in “Affliction” – another great work. A touching character study by director Scott Cooper with a solid script (his own adaptation from the novel), strong performances and a great score complete with songs that fit the backdrop splendidly.

FILM: Crazy Heart
Director: Scott Cooper
Year: 2009

RATING: *** (out of 4 stars)



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