Posted by: Dr P | March 26, 2010

Crazy Heart

In recent years there have been some stellar male leading performances – Mickey Rourke’s iconic performance in “The Wrestler” was by far the best performance of 2008/9, and, quite criminally in my view, didn’t win Rourke the Oscar. Who can forget either of Sean Penn’s statue-winning roles, and then of course there was McLovin in Superbad. This year, Jeff Bridges has taken up the mantle and his inspired performance as the drunk, ageing country singer Otis “Bad” Blake here quite deservedly scooped the plaudits – and the Oscar.

Crazy Heart follows the fading career of Blake, a long-term alcoholic and faded star, whose greatest achievement appears to have been mentoring the current superstar of the country scene Tommy Sweet (Colin Farrell). As Sweet’s star rises, Bad is forced to spend his days on the road, lurching uncertainly from motel to motel, bowling alley to bowling alley for a few bucks here, and a middle-aged groupie there. It’s probably what Darren Day will be like in, um, well now actually. He spends his time perpetually drunk and chain-smoking and is a physical wreck.

After one of his gigs – ironically in a bar – Bad is introduced to Jean (Maggie Gyllenhaal), a single mother and aspiring journalist who wants to do a piece on Blake for her local paper. There is an instant rapport and chemistry between the two, and it doesn’t take long for the normally-private Bad to open up to her; before long they’re sleeping together, and Blake seems to enjoy the company of Jean and her little boy – we learn that he has a grown up child himself that he hasn’t seen in over 20 years, and there’s a strong sense that Bad spends time with the boy in order to try and make up for his own lost family time. There’s more good news when Sweet requests that Bad open a gig for him and it proves so successful that he even asks Blake to write him new songs.

However, it’s not long before his destructive lifestyle catches up and puts everything in jeopardy. Blake spirals down into a dark depression, and it takes the intervention of his old friend Wayne (Robert Duvall) to get him into rehab. The final third of the movie then sees Bad attempting to piece his life back together. Will he get his career back on track, can he stay sober, can he win back the girl, will he ever have a shave?

This is a masterful performance from one of Hollywood’s greatest names. Bridges is simply superb. It’s all too believable watching him lurch from scene to scene in a drunken stupor; for my money it’s the finest “drunk” performance seen Nic Cage in “Leaving Las Vegas”, although UK readers may well recall a classic scene in “The Inbetweeners” which may well rival it! Gyllenhaal is also terrific in her role as Jean, and her constant battles between the maverick lifestyle Bad brings, and her necessity to provide stability for her boy give her a chance to bring a range of emotions to the part. Farrell too is superbly cast as bad boy Tommy Sweet, and both Bridges and Farrell perform their musical numbers well.

Just a terrific film from start to finish, and for once a movie of this sort contains an ending both uplifting and truly believable. My first 5 star movie of 2010.

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