Film review by Michael Oleszek
Technical specs by Michael Jacobson
Stars: Jeff Bridges, Robert Duvall, Collin
Farrell, Maggie Gyllenhaal
Director: Scott Cooper
Audio: DTS HD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Features: See Review
Length: 112 Minutes
Release Date: April 20, 2010
“I’m Bad Blake. When I die, my tombstone will have my real name on it. Until then, it’s just Bad.”
Film ** ½
Jeff Bridges’ Performance ****
The movie Crazy Heart takes the successful formula of a once proud/popular/famous fill in the blank lead character that meets a younger female fill in the blank supporting character with a heart of gold and squeezes it until there surely isn’t anything left. Said lead character turns his life/career around with the help of said female supporting character until something goes array and they inevitably split up long enough for the male lead character to straighten himself up for one last hurrah.
The formula for success with this type of movie is old and tired, much like Jeff Bridges’ character Bad Blake, who Jeff Bridges looks and plays to perfection as a broken down alcoholic country singer who presumably has had much better days. Unlike the country music of today, where everything is pre-packaged and polished to perfection, Bad is a pure and simple singer-songwriter who has lived his own songs and no doubt has more badass in his pinky finger than Kenny Chesney has in his whole body.
Bad Blake is an honest to God throwback to when country music was actually believable, written by the artists themselves, played in dive bars, buoyed by a life of staying in cheep motels and driving themselves from gig to gig. Bad doesn’t hesitate to exercise his brand of ‘do it my way’ authority to a random backup band while playing in a bowling alley or the sound tech of his now more successful protégé Tommy Sweet (Collin Farrell in a bizarre role), whom Bad has the emasculating task of opening for, only after previously teaching him everything he knows.
Inevitably, all of the past trappings (alcohol abuse, smoking, estranged son, failed marriages, etc.) of Bad’s life catch up to him and he loses his current love (Maggie Gyllenhaal as a naïve single-mom reporter) and decides to clean up his act with the help of his old buddy Wayne Kramer (Robert Duvall) in order to make one last run while there’s still gas left in the tank.
This HD transfer makes a lot of use of blacks and dark colors to reflect Bad's bleaker moments, but the colors start to open up more as the film progresses. Detail levels are generally quite good, with a little bit of deliberate softness here and there to accent the moods.
The dialogue is well-rendered, but it's really the music that stands out in this uncompressed audio mix. The tunes give the audio some dynamic range and a little more bottom end strength. The use of surrounds isn't overwhelming, but tastefully done.
There are some deleted scenes and alternate music cuts, a brief featurette on Bridges, Gyllenhaal and Duvall, and a digital copy of the movie for your portable device.
Jeff Bridges’ is extremely believable as Bad Blake and Bad is a country singer that I would actually enjoy. He is a carbon copy of Waylon Jennings, and worthy of the Oscar nod, even more so than Jeremy Renner in this year’s Best Picture winner The Hurt Locker, and he is one of the more standout film characters in recent memory. Other than the fine performance from Jeff Bridges in every scene and a few obscure moments, the remainder of the film is largely forgettable; but if you want a great soundtrack and some thinly veiled indictments of today’s country music scene, then this is a movie for you.