Directed by: Scott Cooper
Written by:Scott Cooper
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Colin Farrell, Robert Duvall, Paul Herman
Released: February 18, 2010
Grade: A

Dear Academy,

Why is it that you keep leaving so many great films off your list for best picture?  Last year, you omitted The Wrestler.  This year, you have ignored Crazy Heart.  I would hereby like to apply for membership so that I can vote for these films (numerous times actually) to ensure this does not happen again.  Please find enclosed a cheque for $6.50.

Kind regards,

Matthew Toomey.       

Ok, so I admit the storyline in Crazy Heart is nothing new.  An ageing singer hits rock bottom and then tries to find a way to get his life back on track.  Jamie Foxx won an Oscar for his portrayal of Ray Charles in Ray and Joaquin Phoenix earned a nomination for his performance as Johnny Cash in Walk The Line.

I guess it’s the way you tell the story which is most important.  Crazy Heart is a beautiful drama built around two moving performances from Jeff Bridges (who is about to win his first Academy Award) and Maggie Gyllenhaal.  It has a nice pace, a quality soundtrack and a picture-perfect ending.  As the closing credits started to roll, the audience at my preview screening just sat there in silence.  They were soaking up the final scene and listening to “The Weary Kind” sung by Ryan Bingham.  What a great song it is.

Bad Blake (Bridges) is a country ‘n’ western singer who is well past his prime.  The film opens with him performing in a bowling alley in the middle of nowhere.  It’s the last place he wants to be but he needs the cash to pay for his whiskey and cigarettes.  His days of playing in front of thousands of adoring fans are long gone.  Now, he’s lucky to pull in a crowd of 50.

At a performance in Santa Fe, he meets a part-time music journalist named Jean (Gyllenhaal).  She’s a single mother with a young son.  There’s an obvious age difference but the film, rightly, doesn’t focus on that.  They are just two people who have come together and connected.  It’s great watching their conversations with each trying to learn a little more about the other.

He’ll always been known as The Dude in The Big Lebowski (one of cinema’s most iconic roles) but Jeff Bridges is a brilliant actor with a terrific resume.  He’s finally receiving his dues and has won a slate of awards this season.  He received a standing ovation from his peers at both the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Awards.  I assure you that this is no “lifetime achievement award”.  Bridges’ performance in Crazy Heart is as good as acting gets.

So how does it all end up?  Will Bad Blake clean up his alcoholic ways?  Will an offer from leading country singer Tommy Sweet (Farrell) revitalise his career?  I don’t want to give too much away because this is a film worth seeing.  In fact, it’ll be one of the year’s best.  A simple story… but a very good one.