Is there a better actor working today than Jeff Bridges? I doubt it. Hes so comfortable in his own skin, and inhabits his characters with such a laid back lackadaisical air, youll never catch him acting. Scott Coopers Crazy Heart really isnt much of a movie, but for at least the rst hour, it allows Bridges to do what he does best hang back and get wasted.

As a washed-up, alcoholic country singer known only as Bad Blake, Bridges raises the bar (har-har) for being shitfaced onscreen, stumbling and vomiting his way to the stage in podunk clubsonly to steady himself on the amps before playing his heart out. The early chunks of Coopers lm are extraordinary. It begins as The Wrestler of country music, with a keen eye for lousy motels, broke living and dead-end dreams. Such a shame it has to get all inspirational on us.

Maggie Gyllenhaal, 10 years too young and way too perky for the role, turns up as an alt-weekly music writer (without a day job!) who interviews Bridges and inexplicably falls for his woozy, staggering charms. It isnt long before Crazy Hearts well-worn grit and authenticity falls victim to bullshit romance and annoying redemption arc. (When I nally go to rehab, I hope I choose a more stable sponsor than Robert Duvall.)

Theres a lot to admire here, particularly a strong supporting turn from Colin Farrell as Bridges former protege turned pop-country superstar. Farrells annoying earrings and fancy clothes speak volumes about the schism between true, hard-living country music and the shit that lls stadiums these days, and yet the movie still takes his character seriously. He yearns for Bridges authenticity, but understands that Bad Blakes lifestyle is too steep a price to pay.

Coopers lm is actually a bigger sell-out than Farrells character. Theres such a hopeless drift to the early sequences, bereft of hope and wallowing in grime and squalor, the lm loses its identity once it turns into a Hallmark TV movie. Crazy Heart ends up like what might have happened in The Wrestler if Mickey Rourke hooked up with Marisa Tomei and got a second chance from Hulk Hogan. C+


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