Sunday, May 02, 2010

Crazy Heart: Grade D

Crazy Heart (2009)
Jeff Bridges, Maggie Gyllenhall, Colin Ferrill, with Robert Duvall. Co-writer & Director Scott Cooper.

Bridges won his first Oscar for his role of Bad Blake, a washed up, alcoholic country singer. It’s a decent performance, especially for him, although he is not in the same league as winners like Sean Penn, Dustin Hoffman, Marlon Brando. Probably the award was mainly to acknowledge his long career of competent acting.

Blake is 57 years old, broke, and happy to get a gig in a bowling alley in some southern town. A newspaper reporter (Gyllenhall, who won best supporting) interviews him and eventually they develop an unlikely and unconvincing romantic relationship. We know how this story goes, from dozens just like it. In the end, Blake must decide what he values in life so he turns a new leaf.

I confess I am not a fan of country music. I find it simplistic, repetitive and maudlin. The songs in this movie were inoffensive and unremarkable, as were Bridges’ performances. He is not much of a singer and the songs were chosen to suit his narrow range so he could bark them out as much as sing them. The story was trite and the acting only competent, even by Maggie, who gave 110% to a weak character. I’ve never been fond of Bridges. I don’t appreciate his broad gestures and blustery overacting. But if you are a fan of his, this is typical Bridges. Cinematography included a lot of stereotypical concert shots with highlighted hair from behind, fast pans through colored spotlights, etc. You know the drill. Some of the backup bands were good.

What is extremely annoying about this DVD was that fast forward was locked out, so it was impossible to skip past the boring parts, presumably because the filmmakers insist that there are no boring parts, but trust me, there are. A long shot of a car driving down a highway is boring. I know they teach you in film school to establish the scene and show time passing, and document change in locations, etc., but I’ll tell you what: it is boring. Same for people walking down hallways and people performing body functions. It’s all just deadwood. But I was forced to endure it, and that added to my overall impression that this movie is just plain boring.

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