Starring: Jeff Bridges, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Robert Duvall, Colin Farrell
Director: Scott Cooper
Writer(s): Scott Cooper, Thomas Cobb (novel)
Cinematography: Barry Markowitz
Original Score: Stephen Bruton, T-Bone Burnett
Running Time: 112 Mins.
Opening with a scene set in a bowling alley, at a bar, camera focused on a bearded bedraggled Jeff Bridges, sound familiar? It should do if you are even slightly accustomed with the masterpiece that is The Big Lebowski, and as any Lebowski fan knows whenever you see the wonderful Jeff Bridges onscreen, and off, you can’t help but see “The Dude” to some extent, heck he is “The Dude”. So imagine if you will a slightly older “Dudeness”, one that doesn’t have a penchant for White Russians but is very rarely without a drink of whisky and who can belt out one hell of a country and western tune. That’s Crazy Heart’s first 40 minutes in a nutshell…
Sadly harking back to past excellence can only carry through for a minimum of time and the fact that Crazy Heart is just another washed-up old-timer facing up to his responsibility tale can’t be papered over for long. By this point you will be well aware Bridges has walked away from Crazy Heart with most of the possible ‘Best Actor’ awards, including the Academy Award, and it has also garnered much respect for the songs written by T-Bone Burnett. That it is for these two aspects that the film in gaining recognition is at once a telling sign and fair summation of what to expect from the rest of the production.
Pedestrian at best, the direction, script and the film overall offer nothing new, in fact the comparison’s to last years The Wrestler are fair whilst being a little derogatory to that film which managed to present a new and fresh take on a similar story. However that said the good bits are very good, Bridges is great if not outstanding, and there was much better on offer in the acting stakes this year, but to be fair on the legend he is due some recognition and it was never going to be for The Big Lebowski 2! Supporting him finely are Maggie Gyllenhaal, who really needs a solid lead role and is capable of so much more than the head-strong single mum, and Colin Farrell completes the line up with proof that if he were to ever need another carreer path a country and western singer is a solid possibility!
Shot across the vast plains of Texas Crazy Heart isn’t an ugly film and the desolate landscapes to convey the mood well enough but there needed an injection of life from somewhere, a little soul to go with the serious issues eventually broached, alcoholism, age, lost sons, sadly there isn only so much Bridges can do with the script that doesn’t shy away from delving to the mawkish end of the pool at times. Though the sequences of song pep up proceedings a little they cannot save an ultimately by the book approach to a story that’s as old as it is weary.
Yes, Bridges is good and, heck, so are the songs, it’s just that when it comes to the washed up old timer routine there needs to be a little more life from behind the camera to offer something new and involving. It’s not heart that Crazy Heart needed, it was a little more soul!