Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Crazy Heart


Capsule review: Eh.

Slightly expanded review: Everybody seems to be over the moon about Crazy Heart because at least it isn't awful. Considering that our theater screens are mostly filled with animated rubbish, special-effects action rubbish, teenage Angst rubbish, and other varieties of rubbish, a country music drama with characters who are (the movie industry's idea of) real people has an obvious appeal to thinking audiences.

Has there ever been a musical drama where the musician isn't strung out on a drug and/or booze and messes up his or her life while we watch? I'm afraid Crazy Heart follows the well-worn path. It even follows the Saved by the Love of a Good Woman path. Are you getting the signal that there's not a carload of originality here?


But what about Jeff Bridges? Look, Bridges is maybe the best American actor around, but contrary to other reviews, this is not one of his better roles. It comes painfully close to caricature. But the script almost forces him to play the lovable loser in neon colors. He might as well wear a sandwich board that says, "Sensitive, pathetic drunk."

I found Maggie Gyllenhaal more interesting, possibly because I'd never seen her in a movie before. She is a left-wing nutter and 9/11 conspiracy theorist, but on the evidence here she's a fine actress, combining charm and vulnerability in this performance, and gives the picture what depth it has. I also love her name — Dutch?

There are no other roles of consequence. Robert Duvall gives a minimalist reading of a supporting role, and Colin Ferrell proves he is just as lame playing a country singer as he is playing you-name-it.


The movie has its intermittent pleasures: a good line here and there, authentic atmosphere (except Duvall's accent, which makes him sound like a Texan who's spent the past 40 years in New York, or vice versa). Location shots in my former home town of Santa Fe and the southwestern desert gave me nostalgic enjoyment.

Two or three scenes work up a respectable dramatic heat, but the story line is basically episodic and predictable. My wife said Crazy Heart is "a Lifetime TV movie for guys," and I concur.



green mamba said...

Isn't the trope of the strung-out, self-destructive country singer pretty worn out by now? Let's see, there was "Tender Mercies" with Robert Duvall in that role, "Payday" with Rip Torn and a few other films the details of which I can't recall. You've confirmed my basic reaction to everything I've heard about this film.

Rick Darby said...

Green Mamba,

Also "Walk the Line." said...

The Dude Abides! Sorry, couldn't resist.

Anonymous said...

Regardless of originality, Jeff Bridges is HOT and I'd watch him open cans of tunafish!