Thursday, December 31, 2009

Crazy Heart (***)

Crazy Heart. 110 mins. R. Written and Directed by Scott Cooper. Starring Jeff Bridges, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Robert Duvall, and Colin Farrell.

The boozing, washed-up musician story has been depicted on screen countless number of times before. Crazy Heart is just the latest entry in the sub-genre, and while it doesn't offer anything new, it does give audiences a chance to see Jeff Bridges at his finest. Bridges has received the lion's share of critical accolades and acting kudos for his performance here, and all are well-deserved. Not once does Bridges show off, or overplay things. This is the best role he's been given since The Big Lebowski. He also boasts a fine singing voice, displayed to proud effect in a number of effective musical sequences. The songs are pretty good too - produced by O Brother Where Art Thou's T. Bone Burnett. Bridges plays Bad Blake, who finds redemption (or something like it) in the form of Maggie Gyllenhaal's Jean, a touring music reporter and single mom with a generically precocious kid. Their relationship and Bad's destructive tendencies comprise the bulk of the plot. Colin Farrell also pops up in a few scenes as Bad's protege, and, surprisingly, he has a great singing voice as well. Crazy Heart is a small, modest film, that plays all the right chords but, aside from Bridges, never really goes out of its way to make a distinct impression. It's content just being a good film, not a great one, but is worth seeing for the performances alone.

- John


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