On DVD: Crazy Heart


Often times a film lifts its star to new height, but every so often the film is the thing getting lifted by the star. Jeff Bridges’ Oscar-winning performance as raging alcoholic and chain- smoking 57-year-old country singer Bad Blake places the film “Crazy Heart” on his shoulders and creates something compelling out of another film about a music star fighting inner demons and finding some kind of inspiration to push through to the other side.

“Crazy Heart” at times appears to be no more than a fictional re-imagining of the Johnny Cash biopic “Walk the Line.” There’s nothing original about a washed-up singer with a drug problem who finds a shot at redemption in the form of a beautiful woman (in this case Oscar nominee Maggie Gyllenhaal). In fact, Robert Duvall, who stars in this film, won an Oscar for basically the same performance in the film “Tender Mercies.”

Yet “Crazy Heart” works. It’s easy to follow the simple story and Bridges plays Blake with so much tireless conviction. He wears down the audience with his believability to the point that no matter how badly you might want to see his character as nothing more than one of many aging alcoholic performers in cinema history, you simply can’t help but resonate with his inner torment.

Gyllenhaal complements Bridges earthiness with her own gravitas. Down to earth has always been her calling card, but in a basic story it is her ability to complicate the emotions in these run-of-the-mill scenes for a female lead in a music drama that elevates them beyond stereotypical.

The music of “Crazy Heart” maintains the indie sensibility, which helps keep the film from falling directly in line with its predecessors. There’s not a whole lot of thematic elements at work, so the script remains dependent on the music for its soul. Just about anybody could become a country fan for two hours as they watch this film because the music comes from an organic place. The songwriting for the film is superb.

“Crazy Heart” is the type of drama that makes you wonder about how lightly the term Academy Award-winning can seem at times. There’s nothing wrongful about the two wins and nomination for the film, it just offers proof as to how sincerity and realism can turn even the most typical of films/stories into Oscar gold.

3.5/5 Stars

Crazy Heart
Directed by Scott Cooper
Written by Scott Cooper, Thomas Cobb (novel)
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Colin Farrell


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