Crazy Heart

I saw this over the weekend with my wife. Jeff Bridges is great, but this is one slow movie, with very little that’s new or interesting. I am sure I have seen this story many times before, but this time Jeff Bridges is singing C&W songs in it.

It’s hard to believe Maggie Gyllenhaal got an Oscar nomination for this. She’s not terrible, but she didn’t seem to bring much to this role. I have not read the book, but I got the sense that there must have been some dramatic tinkering going on with Bad’s alcoholic bottom. Was it softened up to make him seem less reprehensible? If so, that was a mistake. Maggie’s reaction seemed somewhat out-of-line and threw the rest of the movie off the rails.

The one thing that surprised me was Robert Duvall - The whole movie was by the numbers, but his was the one role that offered me a pleasant surprise. I couldn’t figure out how his character functioned in the story until it was revealed (and it wasn’t like it was a big Hollywood reveal, but more like I was surprised that his character was the one playing that part, a crucial role for these kind of films). I thought it would be Maggie or the agent guy on the phone. And for all the singing that Bridges does, I thought Duvall’s little spoken word song was the most poignant of all. Good call on adding it to the closing credits.

I’ve been kind of wanting to catch this one though I can’t really say why, other than I love Jeff Bridges and thought this sounded interesting. I’m a little disappointed to hear your ambivalence about this since I’m kind of on the fence (not being a country music fan myself). Well, probably another one for the Netflix queue I guess.

It wasn’t so bad. Yeah, the story elements seem a bit familiar, but Jeff Bridges is wonderful, the music was engaging (and I generally can’t stand C&W), and there’s this one great shot that I don’t want to spoil so I’ll put it below:

The shot I’m referring to is right after Bad goes off the road and rolls his truck. There he is, sprawled out in the cab of his Suburban, obviously in some distress. We see this framed by the driver’s side door. The window is rolled down almost all the way, but enough of it is up so that we can see the highway reflected in the glass, see his rescuer pull up in his truck, and see him approach Bad’s wreck.

I really liked that shot.

I share the ambivalence. I really enjoyed the movie, but thought the falling in love was pretty out of left field, and agree that the alcoholism didn’t seem all that bad. I did like that it wasn’t as depressing as I thought it would be. Also, YAY FOR COLORADO IN MOVIES. I think it was just in name, but regardless I liked that.

The music? I didn’t like it. I thought there were better songs for him to sing, and was actually really excited when they played a Townes Van Zandt song. THERE’S some good country for you.

I think I’ve already seen this movie at least twice, but rather with Jamie Fox and that guy that went crazy and became a rapper. However…

Bridges was absolutely convincing, and I fall in love with every character Maggie Gyllenhaal has ever played. The scenery and sets were beautiful, and the “live” sound during the concerts was done brilliantly. The tired musicians-with-addictions thing should have been downplayed to what I thought a great story would have been - how the non-Duvall characters are believing their own tired stories too much for their own good.