Is there a better actor working today than Jeff Bridges? I doubt it. He’s so comfortable in his own skin, and inhabits his characters with such a laid back lackadaisical air, you’ll never catch him acting. Scott Cooper’s Crazy Heart really isn’t much of a movie, but for at least the ﬁ 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 clubs—only to steady himself on the amps before playing his heart out. The early chunks of Cooper’s ﬁlm 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 isn’t long before Crazy Heart’s well-worn grit and authenticity falls victim to bullshit romance and annoying redemption arc. (When I ﬁnally go to rehab, I hope I choose a more stable sponsor than Robert Duvall.)
There’s a lot to admire here, particularly a strong supporting turn from Colin Farrell as Bridges’ former protege turned pop-country superstar. Farrell’s annoying earrings and fancy clothes speak volumes about the schism between true, hard-living country music and the shit that ﬁlls stadiums these days, and yet the movie still takes his character seriously. He yearns for Bridges’ authenticity, but understands that Bad Blake’s lifestyle is too steep a price to pay.
Cooper’s ﬁ lm is actually a bigger sell-out than Farrell’s character. There’s such a hopeless drift to the early sequences, bereft of hope and wallowing in grime and squalor, the ﬁ 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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