Jeff Bridges won the Oscar for Best Actor in “Crazy Heart,” and this is indeed a one-man tour de force. The only other actor with much screen time is Maggie Gyllenhall, who was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress award. Appearances by Colin Ferrell and Robert Duvall are significant, though neither is critical to the film’s success. It was nominated for Best Picture, but never really had a chance.
That said, this “small” movie, now available on DVD, maintains interest throughout. The plot, though far from original, doesn’t rely on special effects or Big Moments. Instead, screenwriter/director Scott Cooper, working with Thomas Cobb’s novel, lets the actors take the fairly predictable story line to a conclusion which--while it may surprise and disappoint some viewers—fits nicely and ties up the ends neatly, even poignantly.
Put simply, the movie follows the downward spiral of one “Bad” Blake, an aging country singer who is struggling to keep his life together. Once a big recording artist, he now gets gigs at bowling alley lounges. His agent has stipulated that Bad gets food and lodging for free, but no bar tab.
The wisdom of this restriction becomes apparent quickly, as the singer can’t even manage to get through a full set without pausing to throw up. He interacts politely enough with his loyal, middle-aged fans, but you can see why he mostly plays one-night stands, in both the clubs and the seedy motel beds nearby.
Then into his besotted life comes Jane Craddock (Gyllenhall), an aspiring writer and single mom. The most important thing in her life is her four-year old son, Buddy (Jack Nation); the most important thing in Bad’s is his whiskey bottle. As they become closer, Jane objects to Bad’s drinking in Buddy’s presence, telling him that it’s like a rattlesnake. From that moment on, we wait for it to strike, the only tension being when and where—and whether their relationship can survive the alcoholic poison.
Bridges sings well enough to convince us he could be a boozy country singer: the film won an Oscar for Best Original Song, “The Weary Kind,” which con