Crazy Heart Review
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For those of you keeping score at home, Jeff Bridges is officially (and quite deservedly) one of the Ones to Watch during this year’s award season. Though he hasn’t swept all of this year’s awards, like Mo’nique has, Bridges has become a quiet contender—a role that seems to suit him well. He seems perfectly content to lay low, to let his talent and his passion speak for itself—and that same low-key attitude is exactly what makes his character in Crazy Heart so endearing.

Bridges stars as Bad Blake, a legendary country singer whose career has seen better days. He chain smokes, he drinks too much whiskey, and, in order to pay the bills, the 57-year-old travels from town to town in his beat-up old truck, playing his old songs in bowling alleys and saloons.

  
 
During a stop in Santa Fe, Bad meets Jean Craddock (Maggie Gyllenhaal), a pretty young reporter who makes him question his reckless life on the road. And as he spends time with Jean and her young son, he’s reminded of the things he gave up along the way.

With some help from young country hotshot Tommy Sweet (Colin Farrell), Bad gets a chance to make some money while taking a break from the road. But it’ll take more than just a little extra cash—or even a doctor’s warning—to make him change his self-destructive ways.

Like Mickey Rourke in 2008’s The Wrestler, Bridges gives the performance of a lifetime as he deftly portrays his character’s world-weariness. Though the character has been done before—the hard-partying country singer, whose years on the road are finally catching up to him—Bridges breathes new life into what was once just a worn-out old cliché. His performance feels natural and authentic—and he makes the character feel so real that you’ll almost be able to feel the weight of the world on your own shoulders as you watch him travel from show to show. While the character is desperate and haggard, though, his passion for music shows whenever he’s on-stage. His performances are often a bright spot in an otherwise unhurried —yet still moving—drama.

Bridges gives such an outstanding performance, in fact, that the rest of the movie hardly even matters. The simple story moves at a relaxed pace—and parts of it seem either unlikely (like pretty, young Jean falling for haggard, old Bad) or just a bit too easy. The rest of the cast, too, is a bit awkward (especially Farrell, who seems completely out of his element as a young country singer).

Still, with its unforgettable lead performance, its convincing main character, and a soundtrack full of fitting old-style country tunes, this limited release is well worth checking out as, like Bad Blake, it slowly makes its way across the country.

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