Jeff Bridges (drunk), Maggie Gyllenhaal (sober), Colin Farrell (ponytail)
What’s it about?
Jeff Bridges plays Bad Blake, a washed up old country musician who drinks too much, smokes too much and has no money. He has five ex-wives, a son he never sees, a once-successful career that’s fizzled out into playing bowling alleys just to get enough money to buy some whiskey and no one but saggy old groupies to cuddle at night. He’s not happy about it, but has no idea what to do about it. Then he meets Jean Craddock (Gyllenhaal), a young reporter for a local newspaper who wants to interview Bad. Bad agrees, but gets upset when Jean gets personal. Jean apologises, Bad forgives her, so they sit on the bed in Bad’s hotel room, drink whiskey and sleep together. A relationship follows, and the love and affection that Bad gets from Jean and Jean’s son Buddy start to heal some of the old rocker’s wounds. He starts writing songs again and earning good money churning out tunes for his once-good-friend Tommy Steele (Colin Farrell), which is a good little sub plot that Crazy Heart investigates. Then, of course, some bad stuff happens. But then some more good stuff.
What’s good about it?
Jeff Bridges only has to turn up with his brilliant face, exemplary beard, easy way around a screen, some good lines, a couple of tasty vomiting scenes, a big belly, a sweaty brow, some country music, a guitar he actually plays, some songs he actually sings, a cowboy hat with matching boots and a body rotting from alcohol abuse and he’ll be great. He’s that kind of guy. Give him what he needs and he’ll deliver the goods. It helps that he’ll forever be a cult hero thanks to playing The Dude in The Big Lebowski, but Crazy Heart really is his Oscar moment as he translates the pain and misery of a broken man who wants to be mended onto the big screen.
What’s bad about?
The bit where Bad Black goes to rehab is ridiculous. It involves a walk over a bridge, a brief “I am an alcoholic” moment in front of 15 other people on a lovely lawn and some introspective moments spent in the sun-flecked shadow of a tree. Also, Crazy Heart is exactly the same as The Wrestler but with Jeff Bridges playing a country musician instead of Mickey Rourke’s wrestler. Both films are great though, so it’s not really ‘something bad’, just ‘something curious’.
Although it’s a bit like watching Jeff Bridges look you in the eyes, waft his boozy breath in your face and shout “CAN I HAVE AN OSCAR PLEASE?”, it’s difficult not to be charmed by everything about Crazy Heart. Bad Blake is a damaged hero who comes good, and the film is a painfully personal portrayal of one man’s trip to the brink and back. It’s heart-warming, you see. Like cottage pie.