Thanks to the very kind people at WXRT Chicago, I won passes to yet another movie screening. This time I saw Crazy Heart. It’s a good movie with a really great soundtrack. And actually, before the movie, we were treated to a live performance of the Oscar nominated song, The Weary Kind, played by the songwriter himself, Ryan Bingham. Words can not express how amazing this was. An Oscar nominee playing live before a screening of his movie is definitely not something you get to see everyday. I’m not a huge country music fan, but this guy is the coolest.
The movie is pretty cool too. Jeff Bridges plays a very complicated musician named Bad Blake. Bad is, or was, the epitome of cool. He is reminiscent of Johnny Cash and looks quite similar to Kris Kristofferson. Bad Blake, while dirty and probably smelly, is charming and funny. He is destined to become a cult favorite not unlike The Dude.
Bad is pretty much at the end of his career. When he’s not playing gigs at bowling alleys, he’s drowning himself in whiskey. His agent books him at ridiculous places around the country and Bad has to drive an old pick up truck to each one. I mean, that sounds like a country song right there. His agent also represents Tommy Sweet, a country star played by Colin Farrell. Tommy is the new face of country music and he has a large and young fanbase. Bad’s fans are mostly old hags, but he does not hesitate to sleep with them. The agent has been begging Bad to do some duets with Tommy, but Bad refuses out of obvious jealousy.
It’s all very depressing but Jeff Bridges plays Bad with such charm that we can’t help but laugh a little bit. Things start to look up for Bad when he meets Jean, a very young writer and single mother played by Maggie Gyllenhaal. For some reason Jean falls for Bad. The chemistry between the two is phenomenal even though she’s young and beautiful, and he’s pretty much the walking dead.
Maggie plays Jean very well but I wasn’t sure what her motivations were. Perhaps this was a problem with the character she played. She’s adamant that she wants to stay away from bad men, but then falls instantly for Bad, and I’m not sure why. He's gross. I thought the story would supply us with a little background on her – that maybe she had daddy issues or something. But really her character is kind of a mystery. She has an adorable son that she’s very protective of, but then she keeps letting Bad come over and play with him. And you just know something bad is going to happen. Not that Bad does anything wrong intentionally, he’s just kind of an idiot sometimes. There’s a lot of buildup to these bad things but it takes a really long time to get there. In fact the whole movie is kind of long. And with all the depression it gets a little tedious. Luckily, there are enough funny and relatively uplifting moments to break it all up.
Jeff Bridges is a great character actor and he really makes this movie. He gives Bad a lot of charisma so we want to see him rise above his depression, even though his life is so pathetic. His performances on stage are so convincing, it’s hard to believe that Bridges is an actor and not a country music star. The songs themselves are just as good and could pass for real songs. Some of them were covers, I’m sure, but the fact that I couldn’t tell them apart should mean something. Bridges interpretation of Bad is so authentic Crazy Heart seems like a biography in the vain of Walk the Line. But Bad Blake, as far as I know, never existed.
Crazy Heart is a pretty decent movie. It’s a little slow and a little long and extremely depressing in parts, but it comes around in the end. I think Bridges will win the Oscar. He definitely deserves it – the character was so demanding emotionally and physically. I mean, he’s drunk and vomiting one second and hobbling on crutches the next. Not to mention the fact that he sings all the songs. Maggie did a good job too, but I don’t see an award in her future, at least not for Crazy Heart. Especially when she is up against Mo’nique. (Did I place that apostrophe right?)
And thanks again to my friends at XRT. You keep giving me free stuff. And to throw in a live performance by Ryan Bingham too – you guys are the greatest! Thanks, now can you stop playing so much U-2?