It’s refreshing to see a film that relies on its plot and performances rather than bombast and shiny visual effects. Instead of taking cues from a certain behemoth action film from this season, “Crazy Heart,” much like last year’s “The Wrestler,” is given its soul by a tremendous performance from its leading man; in this film, that actor is Jeff Bridges.
“Crazy Heart’s” plot sounds like it could be ripped from the lyrics of a woeful country song. Bad Blake (Bridges) is a country singer far past his prime, living a doleful existence out of his ’78 Silverado and falling into bed with any number of groupies. His life is as depressing as one would think, until he sees his shot at redemption in journalist Jean Craddock (Maggie Gyllenhaal).
Bridges is outstanding in the role, charismatic and sympathetic yet never pitiful. His performance is full of nuance and grace, and as in any other film where the lead performance is so overwhelming, the other actors fall by the wayside. That’s not to say that Gyllenhaal, Colin Farrell and Robert Duvall are bad, but they just seem superfluous in the film. The filmmaker could have excised any of them from the movie, and the result would be the same thanks to Bridges’s powerhouse performance.
Everything about “Crazy Heart” is understated thanks to writer-director Scott Cooper. It isn’t the best film of the year or the most memorable, but it serves its purpose as an impressive, poignant movie, and it serves it well.
Sarah B. Pilchick may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rating: 3/4 stars
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Maggie Gyllenhaal
Directed By: Scott Cooper
MPAA Rating: R
Release Date: Friday, Jan. 29 in South Florida