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Genre: Drama
Director: Scott Cooper
Cast: Jeff Bridges, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Colin Farrell, Robert Duvall, Beth Grant, Sarah Jane Morris, Tom Bower
RunTime: 1 hr 52 mins
Released By: 20th Century Fox
Rating: NC-16 (Coarse Language and Scene of Intimacy)
Official Website: http://www.crazyheartmovie.com/

Opening Day: 4 March 2010


Four-time Academy Award nominee Jeff Bridges stars as the richly comic, semi-tragic romantic anti-hero Bad Blake in the debut feature film "Crazy Heart" from writer-director Scott Cooper.

Bad Blake is a broken-down, hard-living country music singer who's had way too many marriages, far too many years on the road and one too many drinks way too many times.

And yet, Bad can't help but reach for salvation with the help of Jean (Golden Globe Nominee Maggie Gyllenhaal), a journalist who discovers the real man behind the musician. As he struggles down the road of redemption, Bad learns the hard way just how tough life can be on one man's crazy heart.

Movie Review:

The uncanny parallels between Scott Cooper's Crazy Heart and Darren Aronofsky's The Wrestler will inevitably lead to some comparisons between the two, since both involve the protagonist's gradual shift from indulgence and onto the road to redemption, and being a star in their respective fields who had seen better days before them, well known for their stage name and persona than for the person they are. And of course they will be women and children who provide that extra motivational edge to try and salvage and turn their lives around, dwelling on the notion that one doesn't miss anything until they're gone. Acting nods go to the veteran actors who play the title role too, so what's there not to like with a powerhouse performance?

Jeff Bridges makes an immediate impact as the has-been country singer Bad Blake when he comes on screen, a musician who's on the road doing small tours to rake in as much miniscule cash as possible, playing to crowds in small town bars and make shift concert venue (a bowling alley!). He doesn't enjoy it, but has no choice, going about performing as if it's a chore, indulging in wine and women at each pit stop to numb the routine of venue to venue, city to city as arranged by his manager. He goes through the motion, interested in only getting the next pay cheque to fuel his vice, and while he still has his legion of fans, appreciation doesn't rank up high in his agenda, but exploitation does.

The character of Bad Blake is fascinating enough to keep you rooted to the story. Jeff Bridges' exceptional performance will win you over and sympathize with Bad, especially when he's flawed and can't help but succumb to the occasional temptation, not admitting that he has an addiction problem. Then there's this issue about stupid pride, where he grudgingly agrees to open for his protege Tommy Sweet (Colin Farrell), who has surpassed him in record sales. While we would have thought it be a case of ungratefulness, much of the animosity did get buried and went without much mention, though Tommy has indeed buried the hatchet, and in many instances sung public praises about Bad, which leaves it a big question mark. In their limited scenes together, both Bridges and Farrell play off each other nicely, and when together on the reel stage they deliver an electrifying performance worthy of an encore.

I don't listen to country music (other than the occasional Kenny Rogers when growing up), and I admit that I had the jitters initially whether I would enjoy the film, but after Crazy Heart I appreciate the genre a lot more. Both Bridges and Farrell sang their own songs under the guidance of voice coach Roger Love, and what came off was something that's music to the ears. T-Bone Burnett had a hand in many of the songs, and no prizes for guessing that I'll be rooting for The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart) as my pick as the Oscar's forerunner in the Best Original Song category at this point.

Then there's Maggiie Gyllenhaal who again demonstrates her acting chops as Jean Craddock, a divorcee with a kid named Buddy (Jack Nation) who happens to strike up a cautious relationship with Bad from the onset of her interview with a faded musician. Jean inevitably becomes his muse, and inspires him to do good music. Just how so, remains to be seen in the film of course, and chances are you're likely to root for this difficult romance to work out because of the fine performances and surprising chemistry between Bridges and Gyllenhaal. One thing to note though will be Jack Nation, because it's been some time (since Jerry Maguire perhaps) that a kid that young had come so close to stealing the show.

Crazy Heart really took me by surprise, so if you're game for a film that chronicles a man's struggle to be back at his best, having to suffer painful sacrifices before he waking up from nonchalance, coupled with Jeff Bridges delivering one of his best performances and having a go at performing country songs, then this film is an automatic choice!

Movie Rating:

(Jeff Bridges is Bad Blake, so give him that Oscar already!)

Review by Stefan Shih


. An Education (2009)

. The Wrestler (2008)

. The Bucket List (2007)

. Walk The Line (2005)

. King Of California DVD (2007)

. Shopgirl DVD (2005)


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