Combustible Celluloid
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With: Jeff Bridges, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Robert Duvall, Colin Farrell, Jack Nation, Rick Dial, Tom Bower
Written by: Scott Cooper, based on a novel by Thomas Cobb
Directed by: Scott Cooper
MPAA Rating: R for language and brief sexuality
Running Time: 111
Date: 12/06/2009

Crazy Heart (2009)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Little Bit Country

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Like a good country song, Crazy Heart has an appealing, easygoing vibe for most of its running time, and it does not lean too heavily on stern messages about alcoholism. Likewise, it never puts the audience through the ringer with too much melodrama; each of the turns of plot, including a lost child and a car accident, happens very matter-of-factly and organically, as if natural extensions of the characters.

Country music singer Bad Blake (Jeff Bridges) once had a hit song but now languishes in obscurity, playing dive bars and bowling alleys, drinking constantly and bitter about the success of his one-time protégé Tommy Sweet (Colin Farrell). After one show, he meets music journalist Jean Craddock (Maggie Gyllenhaal) and makes a connection with her and her 4 year-old son Buddy. He agrees to reconcile with Tommy and begins playing bigger shows, but cannot keep his drinking under control. He hits rock bottom when he takes Buddy out for the day and loses him in a bar.

Bridges is the real selling point here. He gives a wonderfully layered performance, full of joy and pain and weariness. Supporters Maggie Gyllenhaal, Colin Farrell and Robert Duvall are terrific as well, and Bridges, Farrell and Duvall can be heard doing their own singing. The movie derails in the final stretch as Bad embarks on the road to recovery; it's a bit too fast and neat and more than a little proud of itself. But until then, it's a nice little movie.

Jeff Bridges won an Oscar for Best Actor, and the film won a second Oscar for the song "The Weary Kind."

Blu-Ray Details: Fox's new Blu-Ray release looks and sounds wonderful, especially the music sequences. Extras include about a half-hour of deleted scenes, and a trailer. There's also a very quick interview with the three stars, asking them "what brought them to the movie" (a rookie question that every interviewer asks and every star is tired of answering). A second disc includes a digital copy of the movie.

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