Everything about writer/director Scott Cooper's Crazy Heart is authentic. The film is never without a moment where I feel I am truly watching a weathered and washed-up alcoholic trying to make amends with his troubled past. And the thing is, I wanted him to succeed all the way.
Jeff Bridges is outstanding as Bad Blake, a country singer/songwriter who spends most of his days now playing small seedy bars when the story begins. He cannot make it through his performance without vomiting mid-set. Bad is introduced to Jean (Maggie Gyllenhaal), a single mother and aspiring journalist who is eager to capture his story. The sparks fly almost instantly between the two, developing into a genuine love story which otherwise on paper might seem unbelievable considering how different they both are. Gyllenhaal truly embodies the spirit of a woman who has had her share of emotional disappointment in the past, once again channeling some of that fire she gave us in 2006's Sherrybaby.
Tommy Sweet (Colin Farrell), whom Bad had mentored and worked closely with in the past prior to a fallout, invites the struggling singer to open for him on his arena tour. After finally being able to put aside his pride, Bad agrees to accept the offer, reviving his music career once again - Tommy encourages Bad to write for him. Farrell is brilliant and completely believable as a humbled country music star, undergoing a magical transformation of sorts here.
As Bad and Jean's romance looms, he also becomes close to her son Buddy (the adorable Jack Nation). Unable to contain his greatest vice, Bad experiences a lapse of judgment while under the influence and this leads to a turning-point in his relationship with Jean. Bad is then forced to face his biggest challenge yet, getting sober - albeit one of the shortest rehab stints ever in cinematic history (!).
The performances and meticulous attention to detail whether it be in the songs (contributed by T-Bone Burnett) right down to the casting choices of background actors, make for a wonderful movie-going experience. Despite being well past his prime and late into his life, Bad teaches us to acknowledge the ugly truth and do something about it when the truth hurts. It's never too late to be "good". That Oscar for Best Actor in a Motion Picture belongs to Bridges. Mark my words. Grade: A
Fox Searchlight Pictures' Crazy Heart is now in theatres. Visit the film's official website here. As an aside, I happened to get this wonderful photo of the still-handsome Bridges in his Toronto visit last September for TIFF as he was here to promote Men Who Stare at Goats.