Wednesday, December 23, 2009
As expected, I fell pretty hard for the characters in “Crazy Heart.”
Jeff Bridges as Bad Blake, a rundown, alcoholic cowboy singer, and Maggie Gyllenhaal as Jean Craddock, the young, beautiful journalist who becomes Bad’s unlikely darling—all set to dreamy folk songs that take me back to my roots (Fictional Bad Blake is from my hometown of Houston).
How could I not fall hard?
From the start, Bad is despicably charming. In the opening scene, he slams shut the door to his beat-up Suburban—Bessie—sidles out unsteadily, and looks up to see he’s been booked to play at a bowling alley in the rural Southwest. At that, he swears, spits, and shoves his hand inside his truck to pull out his portable toilet—a plastic jug (looks like it once housed anti-freeze?) and dumps the contents on the pavement.
Maybe that gesture’s only despicable, and not charming, but to each his own.
Despite this delightful start, as the film moved forward, I didn’t expect to find the story as – perhaps, predictable? Rote?
After we watch Bad give a few performances where he barely (though still, somehow, charmingly?) makes it on stage because he keeps stumbling behind the bar to retch; after he sleeps with the dregs of these honky-tonk bars; after we see him repeatedly fall asleep with McClure’s whiskey on his big belly, only to wake up face first in his own filth; after we … well, understand just how dire his situation is, he meets Craddock and suddenly he’s somehow got a will to live. His whole demeanor changes, if not his unsavory habits.
Though there are certainly some spins on this tried-and-true story of an old, washed-up drunk who seeks redemption and perhaps a new lease on life, I guess I wished for a little more originality.
Bridges is more than fantastic as Blake, as everyone’s saying, and he sings all of his own songs in the movie; Gyllenhaal is too gorgeous for words, per usual. And, there is a great story there.
I’ve just seen it so, so many times.
Next up, "Invictus," which I saw last night as part of a double feature.
I should've gotten 2+ more hours of sleep and saved my pennies (I really tried to like it, too!)