Wednesday, February 17, 2010

MOVIE REVIEW: Crazy Heart

Number of Nominations: 3 (Best Actor – Jeff Bridges, Best Supporting Actress – Maggie Gyllenhaal, Best Original Song - “The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart)”)
Availability in the US: In Select Theatres (Check Showtimes)

Alternately heart-wrenching, funny, and charming, Crazy Heart is one of the most satisfying films I’ve seen. Jeff Bridges is Bad Blake, a country singer/songwriter past his prime who drinks too much, writes too little, and is resigned to playing bowling alleys and bars with pick-up bands in the back of beyond. As his life spirals out of control, he meets a charming reporter half his age (Maggie Gyllenhaal) who makes him start to enjoy life again.

Bridges has never been better than this, and he deserves this nomination as much as anyone. He manages to make Bad Blake at turns laughable, pitiable, entertaining, and inspiring. Gyllenhaal as the reporter and somewhat overly trusting mother of a four-year-old turns in her best performance since Secretary. She manages to be believable even as she transitions seamlessly from the star-struck reporter to the hysterical mom. While she wouldn’t have been my first choice for the role, she certainly pulls it off admirably.

The most memorable aspect of Crazy Heart is the music. Unlike other recent movies about the troubled lives of musicians (Ray, Walk the Line, Beyond the Sea) this story is a work of fiction, so it contains an original soundtrack. Oftentimes in films (or plays for that matter: think RENT) when an artist is trying to write that one perfect song and eventually succeeds, the results are somewhat unsatisfying. Conversely, the Crazy Heart soundtrack—and especially the nominated song “The Weary Kind”—does not disappoint. I can’t get the movie’s theme out of my head, and the other music is quite memorable as well.

Though it has its sad points, overall Crazy Heart is a heart-warming and, ultimately, inspiring tale which is likely to score at least an Oscar for its leading actor if not necessarily one for its theme.

Grade: A

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