Lowdown: An old but talented country singer’s life is hampered by alcohol.
A film about a performer that can’t get a break in life and is thus effectively sentenced to misery and gloom as he roams between one live show to another in a journey like experience is not something we haven’t seen before. To one extent or another Crazy Heart more than brings back memories of films such as Clint Eastwood’s Honkytonk Man or Bird.
Jeff Bridges is our man this time, though. Bridges roams the middle of nowhere parts of the USA performing his live country music act shows in such prestigious arenas as bars and bowling alleys, while spending his days driving 300 miles to his next show and getting drunk. Other than that there is nothing fixed in his life – if you can say there is much of a life in there in the first place: no true love, no home, no career prospects despite a promising start. In essence, Bridges’ character – Bad Blake – lives up to its name by sucking on past glory.
Then there’s a change (otherwise there won’t be a film!): a keyboard player on one of his shows asks Bad to give his reporter niece the interview she needs to kick her career off with. Bad, never the one to turn down a lady, complies; quickly he falls for the reporter (Maggie Gyllenhaal). In spite of her being a generation younger something happens between the two, aided by the fact Bad gets on well with Gyllenhaal’s toddler. Can this relationship get anywhere? Can Bad do something to recover his ailing career, perhaps with the help of a former protégé who is now famous (Colin Farrell)?
I already referred to the expectations I had of Crazy Heart. Every time something good happened to Bad I would just wait for him to mess things up. Crazy Heart, however, does not follow this formula to the letter. I will say this without causing too much of a blooper: Crazy Heart is not a tragedy. Yet if you were to ask the follow-up question, i.e., what is Crazy Heart exactly, you would have a hard time coming back with an answer. That is because Crazy Heart refuses to tell you what direction it's aiming at until its last ten minutes or so.
The result is a bit puzzling. Because of its rather lazy pacing and the frequent breaking into music (it's country music but it's more than fine), you spend most of the film's duration wondering where you're being led to. For for most of that time you simply don't know; you're also a bit bored. While Crazy Heart is not a film about nothing by any means, it does feel like it's lacking direction for too long.
The end result? A film showing off Jeff Bridges' acting talent, mixed with some nice music. Take it or leave it.
Technical assessment: A mediocre DVD through and through, even if the music is nice.
Overall: The acting and the music may be good but the film never transcends. 3 out of 5 stars.