Jeff Bridges Shines in Bittersweet Character Study
A year ago, Mickey Rourke became the toast of Tinseltown after the release of The Wrestler, in which he delivered a memorable performance as a down on his luck loser making the most of his last shot at redemption.
Rourke, whose own life’s trajectory resembled the arc of the character he was portraying, collected a Golden Globe and numerous other accolades over the course of the 2009 awards season.
Looks like Jeff Bridges is about to match Mickey’s feat, having just landed a Golden Globe for Crazy Heart, a similarly-themed character study revolving around a washed-up country singer attempt to revive his flagging career. Hollywood has a habit of rushing to imitate successful films, which helps explain why the equally-gritty flicks seem so similar in tone.
Let’s compare. Rourke’s “Ram ” was a depressed, homeless, sickly, self-abusing ex-wrestler who reconciles with his long-estranged daughter before returning to the ring with the help of his girlfriend, a stripper with a heart of gold and mammaries of silicon. Now, Bridges, as “Bad,” is a chain-smoking, once-famous crooner with a host of woes ranging from alcoholism to emphysema. He also leans on the shoulder, so to speak, of a considerably-younger lover (Maggie Gyllenhaal) and needs to track down the son (Brian Gleason) he hasn’t seen in 25 years.
At the point of departure, we find Bad crisscrossing the country in his car, doing one-night stands in dives and honky-tonk saloons. A shot at salvation plus some steamy rolls in the hay finally arrive the day he meets Jean, the jiggly journalist who decides to dedicate herself to getting his life back on track.
Provided you haven’t seen The Wrestler, or at least aren’t put off by the pervasive sense of deja vu this derivative drama tends to generate, you are apt to appreciate Crazy Heart, especially if you are found of Country Western music. A bonus is Bridges (as well as supporting cast members Robert Duvall and Dubliner Colin Farrell) doing his own singing, which just might be the little extra needed to earn the four-time Academy Award also-ran that elusive Oscar.
Who needs The Wrestler when you have The Crooner?
Very Good (2.5 stars)
Running time: 112 Minutes
Distributor: Fox Searchlight
To see a trailer of Crazy Heart,