Unless you love country music, Jeff Bridges is really the only reason to see Crazy Heart.
He picked up a Golden Globe, took home a Screen Actors Guild best actor award and is a shoo-in for an Oscar.
The performance is brilliant — but everything Bridges has done is brilliant. So the role is not a stretch.
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He’s country singer has-been Bad Blake. A womanizing drunk, Bad has hit bad times. Gigs in bowling alleys and sleazy bars and aging groupies have replaced big venues packed with adoring fans.
One such gig is life-changing. He meets a young female reporter and falls in love. Bad is a bad pick for her. Once a loser, always a loser. But the May/December relationship is good for Bad. It pushes him toward much-needed change, and a predictable plot line and pushes me toward even more predictable punning.
That’s bad, too.
There is a lot to like about Crazy Heart. Bridges does his own singing, and his singing isn’t bad. Co-star Colin Farrell does his own, too, and he isn’t bad either. It is — however — country music and as with folk music, you don’t have to be Caruso or have the range of Roy Orbison to make do.
Crazy Heart has two problems. Writer/director Scott Cooper’s interpretation of Thomas Cobb’s novel is more akin to a bad country song than a good movie. It has nowhere believable to go. Bad is drunk, misunderstood and maligned, and Cooper never really gets deep enough into why Bad is bad.
The second problem is the casting of Maggie Gyllenhaal, who grabbed a best supporting actress nomination. Gyllenhaal is an excellent actress, but she and Bridges never make a convincing connection. You have trouble buying that she would risk all — including her child’s well-being — to bed and maybe wed a drunken has-been.
The criticism is valid, but it doesn’t matter. The whole point of Crazy Heart is to showcase Bridges who has been much much, much better in other films.
At least this one finally gives him long overdue accolades.
Mr. Movie rating: 4 stars
Rated R for language and mature themes. It opens Friday, Feb. 12 at Regal’s Columbia Mall 8.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.