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Jan 11, 2010

Fletch's Film Review: Crazy Heart

Did you see The Wrestler? Yeah? Did you like it? Cool. How would you feel about watching it again, this time about a musician? Sounds intriguing, at least just a little bit, right?

It's not.

Listen, I'm a Jeff Bridges fan, and he indeed does some very good work here when he's not merely shifting between first gear (buzzed and charming) and second (trashed and gross). Though at times the film feels like an infomercial for Bridges inevitable recording career, the elements of Crazy Heart that revolve around the music are excellent. The brief glimpses into the songwriting process, the filming and performances of the songs, the vulgar conversations with agents, the peeks backstage - all are top-notch and feel nothing short of genuine. In some ways, it's Once served with a bottle or twelve or whiskey.

However, whereas that small film was wise enough to avoid delving too deeply into some contrived love story, Heart is not. Though she doesn't play a stripper, Maggie Gyllenhaal is brought on to play the woman that Bridges' Bad Blake is meant to build up...only to let down...only to redeem himself to. By the time it's over, you'll be more upset than Maggie's character for putting yourself through it. Making matters worse is the utter unbelievability of their relationship: we're given tears and proclamations of love after mere days, but never given any inkling as to what either of these characters might see as appealing in the other.

The larger issue here is the rote monotony of the story. I'm not willing to completely write them all off, but it's safe to say that I've come to a point where I'll be proceeding with caution when it comes to alcoholic/drug addict stories. Writers seem to have run out of fresh ways to tell these stories. There are but two possible endings - spiraling further down or rehabilitation and redemption. Neither is particularly interesting at this point. Aside from some good cinematography, some sweet songs, and the chance to see Colin Farrell attempt a Texas accent, Crazy Heart has little else to offer. Only for die-hard music enthusiasts and/or Bridges disciples.

Fletch's Film Rating:
Shaky Cam Rating (details):LAMBScore:
Large Association of Movie BlogsLarge Association of Movie Blogs

One final note: I do have to give some kudos to writer/director Scott Cooper for a sweet Lebowski tribute that opens the film, even if Crazy Heart attempts to disprove my theory that all movies that feature bowling are awesome. Maybe it should just be amended to "bowling scenes improve movies," which they surely do here.

7 people have chosen wisely: on "Fletch's Film Review: Crazy Heart"

thistimeitwillbedifferent said...

I think you make some good points with regard to predictable storylines in the addiction 'genre' but I'd say you could easily expand this further than alcohol and drugs. Whether it's sports or pain or killing or loving or numerous others, the story arc and endings you describe have been getting monotonous across a wide range of films dealing with an 'addiction' for quite a while now. For it to be interesting right now, the subject has got to be something varied and special.

Fitz said...

Bridges does have a great performance too bad there's no story to go with it.

Shame on the Academy for not giving this dude an Oscar by now.

Nick said...

No believable love story and a character dealing with addiction? For a minute, I thought we were talking about a Twilight movie.

Tom said...

I might pass on this one.

The Film Connoisseur said...

Too bad, cause normally, Jeff Bridges rules. Loved him Tideland...though he played a dead guy through out most of that movie. Yet..he did it so convincingly! :)

Fletch said...

thistime - Agreed. There's a ton of crazy-predictable stuff out there, and it's got to stand out to be special. Like I said, Crazy Heart does have some good stuff going for it musically, but the rest is just a whole lotta been there, done that.

Fitz - well, not surprisingly, Bridges largely stays away from Academy fare. I think his best shot was with The Contender, but no dice.

Nick - Zing!

Tom - wise choice. Maybe a rental if you're a big Bridges fan or an Oscar completist, as he's likely to get a nod.

Connoisseur - I missed Tideland. Worth checking out?

Daniel Getahun said...

I don't know, I actually fell for this one - what can I say, Bad Blake charmed me. ;-P

But seriously, as predictable as it was I thought it was at least a fresh setting for the story. The relationship was absolutely the weak link, but for me, Bridges' performance (which I think was a little more nuanced than you're giving him credit for) and the music did the job. And I don't even like country music.