Brainflow Feed

That term first came to my mind when, as a child, I’d try to say “stream of consciousness” and end up with “brainflow.” It seems to fit here.

Welcome to the ramblings of my mind. (For now, they revolve mostly around films.)

Crazy Heart

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010 9:27 pm—Film

Crazy Heart (USA 2010, Drama/Music/Romance), Writer/Director: Scott Cooper

Crazy Heart plays a bit like one of those novellas that doesn’t have a substantial story, but spins out a character so beautifully that you forgive it.

There’s nothing unique in the film’s storyline, which is based on Thomas Cobb’s novel of the same name. Bad Blake (Jeff Bridges) is a washed-up 57-year-old country singing sensation with four failed marriages and three years of writer’s block. But he can still bed women in every small town he plays, and swallows down the bitter taste of it all with alcohol.

Bad tries to pull himself out of his slump, reconnecting with current music great Tommy Sweet (a miscast Colin Farrell) and, more significantly, trying to forge a relationship with single mother Jean Craddock (a perfectly cast Maggie Gyllenhaal—see the Stranger Than Fiction review from August 2007). But it’s clearly going to be an uphill battle for ol’ Bad.

Crazy Heart is reminiscent of Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler (see The Wrestler review from January 2009), although not as daring or well paced. That said, nothing is truly original anymore, and what matters isn’t the story so much as the telling.

With Crazy Heart, writer/director Scott Cooper paints an incredibly textured and complete portrait of Bad, who is inhabited mind, body and spirit by Bridges. It’s a sensational performance, from his beaten down body language to the smoky voice he lends to the original songs. The movie is essentially a character piece, and one that’s well worth the price of admission.

Even Bad’s music—written by American music mogul T-Bone Burnett—is excellent. In fact, it’s so good you’d swear the songs must already be hits (and this coming from someone who, with the exception of Johnny Cash, is not a country music fan). There’s a scene in the film where Bad plays a brand-new song for Jean and she says it sounds familiar. “That’s the way it is with the good ones,” he tells her. “You’re sure you’ve heard them before.”

If that’s how it works with Bad’s songs, it definitely works the same way with Bridges’ performance. He instantly makes his character so real and sympathetic that you feel you know him intimately. Maybe “familiar” isn’t always such a bad thing. It’s kind of like coming home.

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