Friday, 19 February 2010

Crazy Heart - Review

Stop me if you've heard this one - you take a beaten, down on his luck, professional performer, put them through hell, then by the closing moments there is an uplifting sense of redemption? Yes I know I've seen The Wrestler too, but that's not what we're reviewing today.

There are very few actors in Hollywood today who are perhaps as endearing as one Jeff Bridges, he has lit up the screen time and time again with such infamous roles as "The Dude" in The Big Lebowski as well as his tremendous performances in films such as Starman, The Last Picture Show and Thunderbolt and Lightfoot - all three has earned him nominations for an Academy Award. As you may of noticed by now, his performance in Crazy Heart has just achieved the same feat, but can Hollywood's favourite dude go one better and take the Oscar home?

Crazy Heart tells a familiar tale of country-western singer, Bad Blake, once at the top of his profession, now earns a modest living by singing and playing his guitar at one-night stands, in small town bars, in the southwestern United States. Having a history of failed marriages, Bad is without a family. He is mostly on the road performing, staying in cheap motels and travelling in his old car alone.

Like its closest cousin, The Wrestler, Blake is the epitome of a man who feels alienated in the real world. Never really feeling truly alive or with any meaningful purpose unless he is on a stage singing the blues every night, finding comfort before, during and after in the bottom of a bottle. I know it is silly to say such things but it almost feels as though Jeff Bridges has been building towards this role his entire career. He conducts Blake's flaws with the reflection and knowings of a man who, like the character he's playing, has been down that rocky road time and time again.

Nothing sums up the emotion of the film more than the music flowing throughout, especially the main theme, "The Weary Kind" by Ryan Bingham - Whiskey has been a thorn in your side and it doesn't forget the highway that calls for your heart inside.

Much like Mickey Rourke's Randy Robinson, Blake finds redemption through the love of a beautiful woman, this time played by one of the blog's favourite leading ladies, Maggie Gyllenhaal, who adds an extra level of elegance and realism to a movie already streaming with it. The other supporting performances from Colin Farrell and Robert Duvall were also excellent, Farrell as the pupil who had surpassed his former mentor, and Duvall as the hardened bar tender there to help Blake back on the road to recovery.

In a movie where Farrell's character could easily had been "the asshole" of the piece, he proved to be one of Blake's saving graces. Where Blake showed bitterness to where his career had taken him as oppose to Farrell's Tommy Sweet, Tommy is always there to show his utmost respect to the man who made him what he was. The reason I mention this to other moments in the film is because it shows in Blake's fragile alcoholic state that his worst enemy is actually himself.

Final Thoughts
A simple, reflective piece of film making which shows off the titanic, institutionalised actor Jeff Bridges has now become. With brilliant support performances from Gyllenhaal, Duvall and Farrell, Crazy Heart is a beautifully told story of redemption, but also a sobering reminder that there a stories out there doomed to repeat themselves such as alcoholism that will ruin the life of a protagonist and their loved ones. However, if those films live up to the same standard set by Crazy Heart, like The Wrestler before it, I look forward to experiencing the next chapter in the tale.


See This If You Liked...
The Wrestler

Crazy Heart is in cinemas everywhere now.

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