Crazy Heart is remarkable for what it might teach regarding aging in a world that categorically values youth, and the resulting anger and frustration engendered. The film riffs on others that came before with the same theme, most notably Tender Mercies (Robert Duvall-Oscar Best Actor 1983). -Jeff Bridges as weary, self-destructive country singer Bad Blake is at once heartbreaking and the stuff of legend. I see a lot of Kris Kristofferson in Bridges.
At age 57, Bad has been relegated to singing in bowling alleys while his mentored acolyte Tommy Sweet breaks into the big time with a song Bad wrote. Maggie Gyllenhaal is excellent as a small town journalist looking for his story. Pony tailed Colin Farrell is magnificent. The musical performances are great, especially the big concert in Phoenix. Both men perform their own songs (with some help from a voice coach).
Bad doesn’t quite understand the circumstances that that put him on the road to destruction, but he certainly lives them in excruciating real time. It’s difficult to know if continuous booze and cigarettes were the harbinger of Bad’s deterioration or the other way around. One of the first lyrics is “I used to be somebody/ Now I am somebody else.” Who is there left to blame?
This is probably the film that will win The Dude his first Oscar after four previous nominations. I think Bridges deserves it. The key in this particular film isn’t so much the story line; it’s the little things that Bridges does to make Bad Blake come alive on the screen. You feel what he feels and you don’t know if there was ever any out of this self fulfilling prophesy.
I give it four Gretsch Country Gentlemen out of five.
I read the book (Crazy Heart) by Thomas Cobb on the way back from a trip. The film was faithful to the book right up till the ending, where it significantly deviated. For those that do not plan to read the book, here is the alternate ending. READ NO FURTHER IF YOU CONSIDER THIS A SPOILER.
After Bad loses Jean, he falls off the wagon and starts drinking again. One night on his way to somewhere out of the way, drunk, in a driving rain, he loses control of his truck and slides into a deep gully, where he’s stuck. He decides to start walking back toward the nearest town. It’s raining hard. His smooth leather sole cowboy boots slip and slide on the slippery asphalt and he slips into a deep gully, injuring himself in the process. He can’t climb out. It isn’t stated but strongly implied that no one will find him there. He’s left to consider his life and the likely conclusion.