Thursday, July 7, 2011

Crazy Heart (2009)

"Funny how falling feels like flying for a little while...."

- After striking out four times with the Academy and having his best performances overlooked, Jeff Bridges finally earned a Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of aged country musician Bad Blake in 2009's Crazy Heart. While I do not think that there is any doubt for most people that Bridges is great in the film, there is also little doubt that Bridges Oscar for Crazy Heart was one of those unofficial honorary Oscars. Nine times out of ten, one will hear "Oh, what a great career" as a response to Bridges' performance in Crazy Heart instead of "Oh, what a brilliant performance." Bridges definitely carries Crazy Heart, here is a prime example of one fine performance being the sole reason to check out a film, but he only carries it so far.

The film's story of revival and redemption plays out through the aged alcoholic Bad Blake as he staggers across the country in his beat up pick-up from bar to bowling alley playing his equally aged country standards. Meeting a young local journalist Jean (Maggie Gyllenhaal) gives him a new lease on life but does Bad want her enough to change his poor health, bad relationships, and sinking career?

The story for Crazy Heart is small and intimate - but a film does not need a deep, complicated story to be engaging; some of the best films in fact have a simple story with great characters to keep things interesting. Unfortunately, the characters in Crazy Heart are not interesting or sympathetic enough to keep the film engaging. Crazy Heart is boring - it is just a boring, boring movie. Because none of the characters are likable or interesting, one keeps waiting for something worthwhile to watch in the small story but nothing ever happens. On top of that, director Scott Cooper's style is not impressive and Maggie Gyllenhaal is up to her mediocre (and homely) standards. Needless to say, Crazy Heart is disappointing.

Still, Jeff Bridges, while perhaps not at his very best (see The Big Lebowski (1998)), is good enough in the film to check out and, coming from someone who does not particularly enjoy country music, T Bone Burnett's catchy country songs are worth a listen as well. However, these two good aspects are not excellent enough in and of themselves to carry the whole tune and I found Crazy Heart to be a disappointing experience overall.

CBC Rating: 6/10

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