#7 of 2009: Crazy Heart

"I want to talk about how bad you make this room look."

"I want to talk about how bad you make this room look."

Crazy Heart is a film about a man who has to reach rock bottom before he can restart his life and be the man he is meant to be.

Jeff Bridges stars as Bad Blake, a one time country superstar who is now forced to play in bowling alleys and dive bars not because of his talent, but because of his disgust for himself and his choices as well as his addiction to alcohol.  He has a son he never speaks to and his relationships with women doesn’t go any further than the standard one night stand.

While playing a gig in Albuquerque, Blake’s piano player asks him if he will do an interview with his niece, who happens to be a journalist.  Blake agrees and is instantaneously drawn to Jean (wonderfully played by Maggie Gyllenhaal).  She is smart, beautiful, and unabashedly attracted to the talent of Bad Blake.

As things begin to turn in his love life, Blake’s career begins to rebound as well. His agent tells him that he has been asked to open up for his former protégé Tommy Sweet, (Colin Farrell in a role that shows how valuable of an actor he can be) who is now a big time country star.

One of the many things I envy about Crazy Heart is its script.  Tommy could have been presented as the typical rock star who has disregarded his roots and those who helped him rise to the top.  Instead, he is overly conscious of earning Bad Blake’s respect and tries to help him as much as possible.  It is truly a breath of fresh air to see well-developed characters like Tommy Sweet.  The same goes for the love story between Jean and Bad Blake.  The twists and turns that occur within their relationship are honest and untainted and it makes the film’s conclusion that much more satisfying.

Some critics have said that Crazy Heart is this year’s The Wrestler.  I strongly disagree.  The Wrestler is a film about a man whose talent ends up killing him.  Crazy Heart is about a man climbing from the depths of sorrow and using his talent to reclaim control of his life.

Finally, and most importantly, Crazy Heart shimmers through its music.  It is the must own soundtrack of the year.  Listen to each song and how it tells the story of Bad Blake’s fall from stardom.  “I used to be somebody, but now I’m somebody else,” “Funny how falling feels like flying,” “You think by now I would know better, I ain’t got a lot to show, I could write a song, I could write a letter, I could write a book about what I don’t know.”

Bridges should and will earn his first Oscar for Crazy Heart.  He creates a character that effortlessly captivates us with his talent and at the same time makes us shake our heads knowing how much of that talent has been drowned in alcohol and pain.  It is this performance that guides the film and makes it unique, engaging, and beautiful.

Below I’ve attached three of my favorite songs from the film.

The Weary Kind (Theme From Crazy Heart)

Fallin’ & Flyin’ (Duet w/ Colin Farrell)

I Don’t Know


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