CinemaDave (cinemadave) wrote,

Energize the Weary Kind with "Crazy Heart"

And this ain’t no place for the weary kind
And this ain’t no place to lose your mind
And this ain’t no place to fall behind
Pick up your crazy heart and give it one more try
(Bad Blake)

While not Oscar nominated for Best Picture, "Crazy Heart" is nominated for Best Supporting Actress (Maggie Gyllenhaal), Best Song ("The Weary Kind") and best actor (Jeff Bridges). Had this film been released in other years, it may have been nominated for Best Picture. "Crazy Heart" is a character study that tackles tough subjects, but tackles these subjects in an entertaining way.

"Crazy Heart" opens with an a gorgeous establishment shot of the New Mexico landscape. A beat up pick-up truck crosses the landscape and the driver arrives at a bowling alley. Within one minute of his entrance, the audience is learns everything they need to know about Bad Blake (Bridges), a country singer who has seen better days.

Bad Blake spends most of his life on the road and lives off the residual checks of his hit songs with his former partner, Tommy Sweet (Colin Farrell). Formerly a duet, Blake and Sweet had a falling out. Since the split, Sweet became a superstar of country music. Fearing that he is losing his touch, Sweet attempts to hire Blake to write him some new hit songs.

Between gigs, Blake is interviewed by Jean Craddock (Gyllenhaal), a single mother with a precocious four year old boy. Despite his addiction to alcohol, Blake develops a fond relationship with this mother and son. After years of driving around in the dustbowl, Blake begins to consider a new life away from the road.

Despite the simple plot and camera work, "Crazy Heart" keeps one guessing. Will the film end in tragedy or triumph? One could read the novel by Thomas Cobb to find out, but that would detract from the cinematic experience of "Crazy Heart."

Since her bun warming debut from "The Secretary" in 2002, Gyllenhaal has created a niche for herself with independent films. Her Jean Craddock is a vulnerable creature, yet she displays a strong maternal backbone when the need arises. Yet "Crazy Heart" will be remembered for Jeff Bridges dominating performance. Despite the multiple opportunities to go wild, Bridges underplays his scenes and the performance is stronger because of it. While he sings with the conviction of a barroom brawler, Bridges shines in his scenes with a four year old boy.

"Crazy Heart" will be compared to "Tender Mercies," which earned Robert Duvall his only Oscar. Duvall has a small role in **Crazy Heart** and is one of the producers for the film. Given Bridges’ success in this year’s award circuit, Duvall has chaperoned the son of Lloyd Bridges to his first Oscar.
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