A faded country music musician is forced to reassess his dysfunctional life during a doomed romance that also inspires him.
Year 1, Day 207
BEFORE: Another film from 2009, this time the thrice nominated and two time winner, Crazy Heart. The Academy Award wins for the film came with Best Actor (Jeff Bridges, last seen in The Big Lebowski) and Best Original Song; it lost Best Supporting Actress (Maggie Gyllenhaal) although the only surprising thing there is how she was nominated to begin with (maybe she gave a decent performance - I’d be all for that). Anyway, this is the last film before the final one-two punch of mini-chains in Oscar month begins.
AFTER: Yet another film with lots of music, and yet another film where the ending dramatically affects/influences my opinion about the film. Crazy Heart was a pretty balanced film overall; nothing too special and no horrifying moments either. Here’s more.
The acting, led by Jeff Bridges’ winning performance as old, drunk, country songwriter “Bad” Blake, was quite good. It’s a bit of typecasting on Bridges (who played the “Dude” in the aforementioned The Big Lebowski) but it is still very effective. The whole drunk aspect comes across very easily but the more subtle aspect of his characters, the struggles and problems he’s forced to deal with, is also very realistic and believable. Even Gyllenhaal, who plays “Bad” Blake’s love interest Jean Craddock, is semi-decent. Not nearly as horrible a performance as her one in Won’t Back Down. There’s is actually some emotion that comes through her character and it’s not just a lifeless thing that takes up screen space. I’m not sure I’d call it nomination-worthy, but it’s not a detractor for the film. An honorable mention goes to Buddy (Jack Nation) who is Jean’s kid; he doesn’t have that big a role, but he does play an important part in a pivotal scene in the end.
Speaking of that, the ending is what really makes this film stick for me. Before that key scene with Buddy (I’ll avoid plot details, because: spoilers), the film was just neutral. I wasn’t bored, but I also wasn’t blown away. After though, I found myself really caring for “Bad” Blake instead of just understanding him. You see his life go through a lot even in the short time shown in the film, but it’s not until this one incident that a switch is flicked and it’s as if you’re watching a different film. Not filler entertainment, but something you would consciously choose to watch. And it’s even more than just caring for these characters; the ending also delivers on another level. All I’ll say about it is, you’ll find it very satisfactory and unlike many other endings you might expect.
Crazy Heart is one of those films that grows on you as it unfolds. It transforms from the same-old, same-old into a pretty entertaining an fulfilling story of happiness and pain, success and failure. Jeff Bridges delivers a great performance (although the competition this year was intense) and the music was very fitting to the atmosphere of the film. Definitely one to consider watching, but there are a few red-flags preventing it from being a see-right-now film.
RATING: 4 out of 5