Jeff Bridges gives a stumbling, puking, greasy performance in Crazy Heart – it’s one of those “ugly” roles meant to reject Hollywood glamour in hopes of making it to Hollywood’s glammest night of all.
Bridges plays Bad Blake, a grizzled country-music legend in the twilight of his career – if by twilight you mean playing with pickup bands in New Mexico bowling alleys that won’t even let you open a house tab. That last detail is a particular indignity for Blake, considering he’s a committed alcoholic.
Bridges – and the movie, written and directed by first-timer Scott Cooper – are equally committed to this character trait. It’s not romanticized, but instead imbues the picture with a pathetic weariness that’s authentic. Crazy Heart counts, at least, as one of those rare movies about booze that actually makes you think twice before cracking open a beer.
Less authentic is the shoehorned romance between Blake and a much younger single mother (Maggie Gyllenhaal) who sets him on the inevitable path to redemption. Also on hand are a twitchy Colin Farrell as Blake’s former protégé and an excellent Robert Duvall, who saves Blake – and the movie, really – with a few honest words during a fishing trip.