Sunday, 7 March 2010

Review: Crazy Heart

Year: 2010
Director: Scott Cooper
Screenplay: Scott Cooper
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Robert Duvall, Colin Farrell

Plot Synopsis is here

Crazy Heart is not a very surprising movie. It follows the same well trodden paths as many musical biopics or character studies and seen them once then you've seen them all. However, Scott Cooper's film is not only effective in telling the tale well but it also features a great performance from Jeff Bridges. It may not be the Dude, but it's a towering performance that dictates much of the film. There's a laid back charm shines through so many moments of the display, that it's hard not to like Bad Blake, despite what his inner demons have done. I feel that if you enjoy Bridges' performance than you'll warm to the whole movie.

This is not to say that there's nothing else to Crazy Heart at all. Not at all. From an acting point of view the whole cast is worth watching; Maggie Gyllenhaal's sensitivity and shyness is spot on as Jean, Robert Duvall (a producer to the film) appears with a small yet amusingly grizzled display, and Colin Farrell once again reminds us that he has a great talent for accents.

In fact Farrell's pivotal role is one of the most interesting of the film as we are given a character who looks to be a full on antagonist who actually isn't that despicable at all. The few scenes that Farrell share with Bridges on screen are to me the most memorable. The reasons for the former partners breaking up are ambiguous enough to keep a considerable amount of weariness about both characters and what happened. Credit to Cooper is due for keep the tone in the writing and execution of the scenes from being too explicit.

I also liked how alcoholism is approached in the movie. Yes, you have your more "blatant" moments, but it's the quieter moments that are the most affecting. The best moment being seeing Blake sober compared to drunk. A small moment but effective.

This does bring me to the movies third act, which unfortunately are not as strong as the scenes that have taken place before it. At the end of the film, everything seems to tie up a little too neatly. In fact I found myself asking "is it that easy?!?!" It's a little hard to swallow considering how far this character had fallen. However like I mentioned before this is a character study on rails and contrivance does rear it's ugly head at the best of times.

But it doesn't stop the film from being watchable. Very watchable in fact. The dialogue is funny, the emotional moments are warming enough and the almost relaxed nature of the film makes it hard to hate. There's been comparisons of Crazy Heart to The Wrestler and while I can see the similarities, The Wrestlers effectiveness comes from the attention to detail to that world. It's a stronger movie that doesn't let up. Crazy Heart is more interested in letting you go with the flow.