02 February 2010

Scott Cooper's CRAZY HEART - A Review

by guest columnist Michael Wendt.  Follow him on Twitter

There is a scene early on in Scott Cooper's terrific Crazy Heart where Bad Blake (masterfully played by Jeff Bridges) finds out after a 400 plus mile drive in his '70s pick up truck that he's playing in what he describes as "another f---king bowling alley?!". This is where life has taken the once great and praised singer/songwriter.  He hasn't produced or written new material in years, he travels to hole-in-the-wall bars where he will occasionally find a woman for the night, and he's let alcohol control his life.

On one such stop to the next town, he encounters a reporter named Jean (Maggie Gyllenhall). She and Bad instantly find a connection and ultimately fall for each other. It seems to give Bad a new lease on life as he gets to know her and her young son, Buddy. During this time it also reunites him with an apprentice named Tommy Sweet (Colin Farrell), a rising star in the country scene, who owes a lot to Bad and even asks him to write him some new material. But the demons that haunt Bad slowly creep up and put his turn around in jeopardy.

The performances in this film are excellent, Bridges seems to be having a ball playing this character, he is just so good, as well as Gyllenhall, she is toe-to-toe with Bridges. Before going into the movie, I wondered if the age gap between the Bridges and Gyllenhall would make it a little hard to beilieve bur am happy to say that they have a great chemistry together. There is also nice supporting performance here from Robert Duvall as his long-time friend. Another star of the movie so to speak is the music (actually performed by Bridges and Farrell), personally I am not much of a country fan but the music, supervised here by T. Bone Burnett, had me tapping my foot and nodding along with it.
This all sounds like a familiar story right? Well, yes it is true there are several elements of Crazy Heart that have been seen before (many collegues I know refer to it as The Wrestler with country music), but I feel when done right a story is worth telling many times, just like an old song that you visit time and time again.

4 stars out of 4 ****/****

Michael Wendt is a Cleveland-based Actor, Producer, and Director.  His recent works include the documentary The End of the World As We Knew It which has played at several Film Festivals, as well as acting in the romantic omedy The Bride & The Grooms which had a limited release around the country last year. When not working on film projects, you can probably find him frequenting the movie theater or hitting a karaoke bar!


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