Jeff Bridges won Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama at Sunday’s Golden Globes for playing the epitome of a rolling stone &- a boozed-up, smoking, unbuckled, unshaven 50-something singer on the road.
Crazy Heart, based on a novel by Thomas Cobb, centres around the hard-drinking Bad Blake, a country singer whose most devoted fans are South Americans in their late 50s, and who is reduced to performing in obscure venues.
It would be an understatement to say Bridges simply acts the part of the country singer. With every mannerism, he is the part.
Bridges looks like something scraped off one of the roads his character travels. The character’s voice, abused by years of indulging in drinking and smoking, cracks when he speaks. But when he sings, the sounds come from his gut.
Bad is not good at speaking his mind. But what he can’t say he pours into his music, making up for his always-open fly, unbuckled belt, sweaty shirt and scraggly beard.
There are few actors who can so devote themselves to a role as to almost become it. Bridges’ performance brings to mind Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the Joker in The Dark Knight.
As great as the acting is though, the movie could have been better as a whole 8212; a more developed script and a discernible plot are two areas that definitely could have been improved.
The story follows Bad while on the road. An old coyote, he travels alone in an old, beat-up truck and is welcomed in every venue (always either a bowling alley or bar) by another hand-me-down band.
He meets the love of his life, local journalist Jeannie (played with intelligence and charm by Maggie Gyllenhaal) on his stop in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Although she brings out the best in him, Bad remains faithful to his vices, which almost cost him his life when he falls asleep at the wheel.
The romance is doomed from the start, but the chemistry between these two great actors is undeniable. What the movie lacks in the storytelling, it makes up for in the characters. Some of the best moments Bridges and Gyllenhaal share on screen is when Jeannie attempts to interview Bad while he tries to skip around every question.
“What do you want to talk about?” she asks. “I want to talk about how bad you make this room look,” Bad responds, as he tries to wriggle his way into kissing her. Colin Farrell also has a role, as modern country star Tommy Sweet. Though Bad cannot stand Sweet, he inevitably ends up as the opening act for him simply because he needs the money.
Irishman Farrell sports a convincing Southern accent and a great country-singing voice. Another great appearance in Crazy Heart is Robert Duvall as Bad’s best buddy from back home.
Crazy Heart is worth seeing not for the plot, but the astounding performances and beautiful music. Stephen Bruton and T Bone Burnett team up for the original soundtrack to give you the killer ballad “The Weary Kind”, which closes the film, giving it a perfect punctuation. “This ain’t no place to fall behind. Pick up your crazy heart and give it one more try.”