The story of a has-been country star who tries to find redemption in a doomed relationship with a much younger woman is one that has certain parallels with The Wrestler which starred Mickey Rourke. And like that movie it is carried by the performance of its star, in this case Jeff bridges as Bad Blake giving an Academy Award winning performance. But there is more and even people who are not into country music, of which there is a lot of featured here, will find the alcoholic Bad Blake’s journey to hitting rock bottom interesting.
The sky is always the limit but when you get there it’s a long way down when the fame starts to fade. This is what Bad Blake learned the hard way, driving cross country from small gig to small gig with a couple of old smash hits on his name as well as a couple of marriages. They might be responsible for his money problems. His car is far from the flashy stuff we see in the average rap video, and he’s gone from performing for large crowds to performing in a bowling alley. He can’t even run a tab, but at least they let him bowl for free. But when you’re an alcoholic the tab is more interesting.
Things look on the upside when he meets newspaper journalist Jean Craddock with who he starts a relationship with despite their difference in age. She and her son Buddy are the closest thing he ever had for a family but his lifestyle isn’t suitable for a family life.
Movies like this rely on their performances more than originality in the story line, explosions or effects. The only surprise these kind of movies have is whether the subject of the movie finds redemption or not, or even survives the movie.
Luckily there’s nothing wrong with the performances and Jeff Bridges was finally rewarded with an Academy Award after delivering solid performances for over more than 30 years. His Blake is full of Clichés fallen musicians but never feels fake. His love interest is played by Maggy Gyllenhaal who is supposed to be around 30 years younger and that was the sole aspect of the movie I had more difficulty accepting. This is an alcoholic, not very attractive person with no cash and who due to his job tours around the country and thus isn’t home much. Despite that Jean, divorced mother of a four-year-old falls for this guy and even entrusts him with her son. The mom of the year award should definitely not go to her.
But they do sell this somewhat unlikely romance and even though the movie has a very slow pace the story of Blake is a heartfelt one, never going for an easy way out and the ending feels more realistic than the ending one might have expected. Crazy Heart shows the ugly face of life after the fame (and marriages) and while the face might be ugly, the final product is pretty nice.