Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Crazy Heart

I finally got around to seeing Crazy Heart, starring Jeff Bridges as Bad Blake, a washed out country music singer/songwriter. The film won two Oscars, including Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, so to some extent it was obligatory for me to see it at some point.

SPOILER ALERT: This review will likely reveal portions of the story you may not wish to read, if you have not seen this film.

First off, this is a big Hollywood production with all the best Hollywood production values. The camera work is nice, the sound is good, the actors and extras all do excellent work, and there are stars in the diadem, chief of which are Jeff Bridges, Colin Farrell, Maggie Gyllenhall and Robert Duvall. The movie is well done, has a feel good ending and does the work it's supposed to do, I suppose.

It's a familiar tale. Former country star now down and out, a lifetime of broken relationships, now playing dives and bowling alleys finally realizes how messed up he is and gets help. In the end, he's back in the big time.

So what's wrong with this? Nothing, except that I kept feeling like I was watching Tender Mercies all over again. Sure, Bridges is a different character from Duvall's Mac Sledge, but they're essentially one and the same. They're rugged, charming, and self-destructive. All the while that I was watching I kept thinking of Tender Mercies, and then suddenly here's Jeff Bridges walking into a bar where Robert Duvall is the bartender. Hmmm.

Now I know Hollywood likes to do these kinds of reprise tributes as we saw in '91 re-make of Cape Fear, Robert Mitchum and Gregory Peck returning to create that echo effect. But for me, this kind of tinsel-town self-stroking already comes across as a bit of self-serving Narcissism, but to top it all off the a co-producer of the film was Duvall himself, producing a film that reprised his own former role.

When Bad Blake finally realizes how badly messed up he is, Duvall is there to help get it together, pointing him in the direction of AA. Happily, ol' Bad turns all this disaster into lyrics for some great new songs and his career begins to soar again.

The film has lots of music, and Colin Farrell is great as country superstar Tommy Sweet. If you can turn off the film critic inside and go with the flow, you may just enjoy this one.

ennyman rating: 3 stars out of 5

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