By Jaclyn L. Katz
Gritty country music and phenomenal acting together build the foundation of Crazy Heart. The film has a cleverly written narrative and is beautifully filmed. What really grabs you though, what emotionally tangles the spectator in the story, is the performance given by Crazy Heart’s star, Jeff Bridges, who plays washed-up country crooner Bad Blake. With a perpetually lit cigarette and a whisky in hand, “Bad” is a grating character; Byronic in his self-destructive ways, he leaves the audience rooting for him to succeed. He is a brilliant songwriter and a romantic, kind soul but has a pathetic addiction to alcohol and self-pity.
Maggie Gyllenhal, nominated for best supporting actress at the upcoming Oscar ceremony, gives a relaxed and absolutely graceful performance as Jean Craddock, the saviour of Bad’s spirit.
Never properly recognized for his work, Bridges gives a performance that roars with talent and won him a Golden Globe last week. On February 2, when the Oscar nominees were announced, there was an unquestioned nod his way under the heading “best actor.” The music in Crazy Heart is freshly woven into the narrative, so that it seems to sing out the landscapes of Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Arizona alike. If anyone watching the film is a Waylon Jennings fan or has ever been a loyal listener of any of the Highwaymen — Cash, Kristofferson, Nelson, or Jennings — they are certain to feel the thunderous twangs of old country as riveting when set to Crazy Heart’s moving pictures as when listening to their favorite track. (If you don’t have a foothold in old country, I would recommend Highwaymen, City of New Orleans.) And certainly anyone could do worse than to meet classic country music through this fine film.