Starts March 4
Based on Thomas Cobb’s novel, writer / producer / director Scott Cooper breathes life into the hard-luck, hard livin’, smokin’ and drinkin’, aging country singer character. There was a time when Bad Blake (Jeff Bridges) was high-on-the-horse, writing and singing his #1 songs; now he drives to gigs alone in his aging car. When he arrives at a bowling alley in Pueblo, New Mexico he knows he has hit an all-time low. Next gig, Sante Fe: the fluid piano player Wesley (Rick Dial) asks if his niece, a reporter for the local paper, can interview Bad. Bad acquiesces; he is, basically, a nice guy.
Jean (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is more than Bad bargains for: young, probing yet respectful, optimistic although carrying her own “baggage,” she awakens a sense of goodness and hope in him. When she probes about Bad’s flourishing ex-protégé, Bad says, “Two things I don’t want to talk about, (my) multiple marriages and Tommy Sweet (Colin Farrell)”… or Bad’s real name. Jean gambles and opens up, allowing Bad into her and four-year-old son Buddy’s (Jack Nation) space. Bad makes biscuits for Buddy, is smitten with Jean, and craves a home life.
His agent phones, excited that Tommy Sweet wants Bad to front for him at an upcoming concert. Bad balks, but he is broke. Back in Houston, Bad levels with his old friend Wayne (Robert Duvall) about Jean, then slides back into the bottle; this is bad. But it is not until Jean and Buddy’s long awaited visit goes terribly wrong that Bad turns to Wayne, “I want to get sober… hell, I’ve been drunk most of my life.” Will he stay sober though, when Jean rejects him?
Bridges astutely encapsulates the nostalgia and pathos of a man who succumbs to addictions, then tries to redeem his career and his life. He has the traits and swagger down pat, in this truly Oscar®-worthy performance, (somewhat reminiscent of Mickey Rourke’s wrestler.) Cooper captures the humanity of the characters as we travel behind the country music scene, especially of those singers on the fringe. Melt into cinematographer Barry Markowitz’s wide-open Southwest landscapes that mirror the yearning of an empty soul. Wrapped in country rock, it is no surprise the original music by T-Bone Burnett and the late Stephen Bruton is winning awards — Crazy Heart will leave you yearning to hear more.