Crazy Heart

>> Friday, February 12, 2010

It’s one of the year’s best, most deeply felt films.
-- Kyle Smith, New York Post
If ever a movie demonstrated how country music emerges from private sorrows, this is it. But something can always be done to make a movie better.
-- David Denby, The New Yorker
I second the "deeply felt" and "country music" statements. This is a movie so subtle that I couldn't think of anything to say about it, so I started looking at its review page on Rotten Tomatoes. I saw this on Sunday, before the Super Bowl. It is now Friday. It has no obvious climax, unlike, say, Avatar.

What it does have is complete immersion into Bad Blake's life as a "washed-up music legend." Traveling from small joint to small joint just to break even, he even stops at a pay phone to make a phone call. Yes, a pay phone! It stuck out at me because this is a movie with cell phones and Maggie Gyllenhaal's character's iMac. When I saw the old, rectangle, pay phone box, my first thought was, "Really? Do those still exist out in the middle of nowhere or was it just a prop?" (The middle of nowhere would be either in Arizona or New Mexico. I'm not sure which of those two states the scene was filmed in.)
Crazy Heart gets to you like a good country song -- not because it tells you something new, but because it tells it well. It's the singer, not the song.
-- David Ansen, Newsweek
I can't say that it "got" to me. I certainly felt bad for Bad Blake, at times, but on the other hand, I had to admire his attempts to do the right thing in the end. This does have a fantastic cast: Jeff Bridges, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Robert Duvall and Colin Farrell. Yup, Colin Farrell pops up as a country music star. What most amazes me is that I totally believed it. He speaks with an American accent and just fits right in. I didn't realize Duvall was in it until I saw it. I knew Farrell was cast, but Duvall just seemed to pop out of nowhere.

So Maggie Gyllenhaal received an Oscar nomination for this. I can live with that because I know she's a good actress. But she seemed to have an off-and-on relationship with her character's Oklahoma accent. It was so there when she first meets Bad Blake. Then at other times, it doesn't seem to be there at all. Perhaps I quibble about nothing.

I think we all know that Jeff Bridges will finally win an Oscar for this. It's a subtle, subtle performance. No scenery-chewing exists in this performance, unlike Daniel Day Lewis's performance in There Will Be Blood. I think he definitely deserves it, not just for his career but for this performance. Subtle performances tend to get overlooked because they don't jump out at you. If I knew nothing about Jeff Bridges prior to this, I would think that he is exactly like Bad Blake. It's such a naturalistic performance. Except that I have seen Bridges in other films and know he can pull off corporate assholes like he did in Iron Man.

I just hope he gives a good speech since his winning won't be a surprise.


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