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REVIEW: Crazy Heart

Jeff Bridges is a lock to win the Oscar for Best Actor

Jeff Bridges stars in Crazy Heart.
Courtesy photo

When I saw the commercials for Crazy Heart, I thought it was Jeff Bridges playing Kris Kristofferson, in a version of Tender Mercies.

Even though the subject matter is something we’ve all seen before (it’s got a little bit of The Rose and a lot of The Wrestler), this is still a good movie. And I’m one of those guys that at a party, when the subject of musical tastes come up, always says, “I like all kinds of music, except country.”

The songs here, most of which were written by T Bone Burnett (he’s the one that gave us the wonderful collaboration between Alison Krauss and Robert Plant, among many other things), are catchy.

Most people don’t realize Bridges has sung before, not just in The Fabulous Baker Boys or as Lebowski singing along to his CCR cassettes. Bridges has released a few CDs of his music. I bought one at Music Trader on Midway right before it went out of business (it was only a dollar, that’s why).

It’s hard not to laugh as Bridges sings, “I used to be somebody/Now I’m somebody else.” Not because his vocals are weak; he’s playing an aging alcoholic singer who is on the downside of his career…relegated to playing bowling alleys and dive bars. His voice works because he’s singing these words and…well, we wonder if he really is playing somebody else. Sure, the performance got him an Oscar nomination (and let’s face it, a guaranteed Oscar win). But it’s not the most original character. That means, you’re going to see him barfing, missing gigs, getting in car wrecks and sleeping with groupies (nice to know that even if you’re at the point in your career of playing bowling alleys that offer you “all the free bowling you want,” you’ll at least be able to snag a woman). Come to think of it…that bowling offer that turned Bad Blake off would’ve thrilled Lebowski.

Many people are comparing the Blake character to Merle Haggard. (Has a name ever been more appropriate? For both singers.) That would make Blake someone that’s hard to take, but in this, he’s charming enough to have us rooting for him.

And while Bridges reminds us of various country legends, Colin Farrell plays a famous country singer that makes me think of, well, George Michaels (maybe it’s the earring and five o’clock shadow).

The cast is rounded out nicely by the Oscar-winning Robert Duvall and Oscar-nominated Maggie Gyllenhaal as the reporter and love interest.

It’s easy to see why the much younger Gyllenhaal would fall for Blake, although the romance is a part of the script that has sloppy writing. That’s easy to forgive when you have these catchy tunes to tap your toes to. And when your feet touch the sticky theater floor of melted bon bons and spilled Cherry Coke, heck…it’s not hard to imagine it’s the spilled beer of dive bars in Oklahoma that Black inhabits.