Crazy Heart is a great movie which deals with a great truth with searing honesty: If you run away from who you truly are and the gift that you have been given, it will kill all that you love in your life.
Jeff Bridges delivers an Oscar worthy performance as Bad Blake, a once big-time country music star who has drunk his way to the very bottom. When we meet him he is playing a gig at a bowling alley. He has to run off stage to puke. He leaves the alley with a woman who could be an extra in a zombie movie. This is initially funny, in the way that watching a drunk stumble on a street corner can be funny for a minute or two. But, of course, we soon realize that it is incredibly sad. It does not take long for us to realize that Bad Blake is not bad at all. In fact he is a very warm, loving and funny character who has a tremendous gift – he can write and sing a bad-ass country tune. You know, the kind of song that can be a little funny, but is really very poignant and touching and just sounds real - real good that is.
Bad is bitterly trying to make a comeback and like all drunks, he thinks the only thing stopping him is, well, someone else. Everything is someone else’s fault. He is a victim of the success of his former protégé, Tommy Sweet, played with an understated charm by Colin Farrell. The young Irish heart-throb could have so easily gone for the low hanging fruit here and played it all for laughs, by cheesing up the cowboy accent and hat. But he doesn’t, which just confirms that the now sober Farrell can really act and that first-time writer/director, Scott Cooper can really direct.
On the road, Bad finds some love with a young reporter, played with typical polish and authority by Maggie Gyllenhaal. We know instantly that this isn’t going to a groupie hook-up and Bad is taught some serious lessons that he has managed to avoid learning in his younger, more successful years. Bad learns that he can’t play the joker anymore. Bad also learns that he can be on the road for the rest of his days, but he just can’t run away anymore. He realizes just who he is, and what his gift is and how to respect this gift.
Although at times it is really funny, Crazy Heart is not an easy movie. No matter how tough a cowboy you are, you will want to cry, maybe even sob or bawl. Whether you allow yourself to or not is your choice. But you will leave the theater more committed to being true to yourself and your loved ones than you were when you entered the theater. This makes Crazy Heart a truly great movie and one that you truly must see.