Crazy Heart (2009)
Written and directed by Scott Cooper
Based on the novel Crazy Heart by Thomas Cobb
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Colin Farrell, Robert Duvall
Country musician Bad Blake (Bridges) is no longer the star he once was. He lives a fast life, ruled by his personal demons. When he finds romance with a young woman (Gyllenhaal), Bad begins trying to change his ways.
Crazy Heart began as a novel, written by Thomas Cobb and published in 1987. Scott Cooper (Hostiles) adapted the novel and directed the film. Jeff Bridges (Hell or High Water) and Maggie Gyllenhaal (Stranger Than Fiction) star in the film. They’re joined by a talented cast, including Robert Duvall (Open Range) and Colin Farrell (Minority Report).
I have not had the chance to read Thomas Cobb’s novel. If it’s anything like the film, Cobb must have done an incredible job crafting a unique central character as well as the world he lives in. The adaptation by Scott Cooper certainly does both of those things very nicely. The story puts the audience right into the middle of the sad routine that is Bad Blake’s life. From there, the plot introduces all sorts of fascinating characters. Each of these people seems to live in this world of country music and dirty old bars. The twists and turns for the central characters are honest and realistic, allowing this one to feel somewhat relatable. Good dialogue communicates all of the complicated emotions of the main characters. The writing also finds the right way to make room for the music. This script creates something that is sometimes sad, sometimes funny, and always very genuine.
Jeff Bridges’ performance is incredible throughout the movie. His physical and emotional commitment to the story truly pays off. His musical ability also shines throughout the movie. Bridges also does a good job creating unique chemistry with each of his co-stars. The relationship he builds with Maggie Gyllenhaal is especially good. Throughout the movie Gyllenhaal pulls off some emotionally challenging scenes. Colin Farrell and Robert Duvall also do nice work throughout this one. Their performances fit into the world of the film perfectly. It’s the ability to believe the performances that makes this one work. All of the actors feel like they truly belong in the world of the film. Jeff Bridges won an Academy Award for Best Actor, and Gyllenhaal was nominated for Best Supporting Actress.
It’s important to understand how much music matters in a film like this. Jeff Bridges initially turned down the film over concerns that the music wouldn’t live up to the story. It was only after he learned that T Bone Burnett had been hired to work on the music that he joined the project. The original songs in this one are incredible. The movie won an Oscar for Best Original Song for “The Weary Kind” by T Bone Burnett and Ryan Bingham.
The story creates a unique and fascinating world for the actors to work within, and the visuals complete the picture. The sets, locations, and costuming all add to the authenticity of the film. While the story is a modern-day tale, the visuals constantly seem to hearken back to some lost era. This is also a product of the music that flows throughout the film. This sentimentality is important to the story, and the production work helps to bring it out.
This is a wonderful film, with great acting and a solid story. It’s also a story that is honest and unflinching. If you’re hoping for clean and neat resolutions, this might disappoint. On the other hand, this is a great choice for anyone who appreciates real drama. I would also suggest this one to fans of the stars, or fans of country music. I give this one 4.8 out of 5 stars.