Friday, February 19, 2010

Crazy Heart- She said

I can’t imagine the life of a washed up musician. Someone who had the world at their feet for years, then in the blink of an eye, everything is gone. Maybe they wasted away their money, lost their edge, got into drugs, alcohol and sex, or maybe all of the above. Whatever the reason, they lose their star power and are reduced to a has been that use to have a famous song at one point. Sure, they still have some loyal fans, but they’re forced to play at local bars or bowling alleys where the locals come out because there’s nothing to do. I wonder how many musicians nowadays will have this life in the future?

In Crazy Heart, Jeff Bridges’s character, Bad Blake, is this musician. He loves music. I mean really, really loves music. But he’s broke. He lives from gig to gig, hotel to hotel, making enough to buy the next bottle of booze. He had talent at one point. He still has loyal fans in these local towns that love his songs. The local backup bands are more than honored to play with him for the shows. Bad Blake is at the bottom of the barrel. He’s a washed up and expired and drinking himself to death. The closest relationship he has is with his agent over the phone. He does find company in the towns he plays in, but he always sneaks out in the morning.

Then he meets Maggie Gyllenhaal’s, Jean. She’s a struggling reporter for a local paper wanting to break into music biz as a writer. Through their encounter, Blake becomes intrigued with her, and she with him. I never really understood their relationship. She seems stable, for the most part, and we find out later about her past. Maybe this is the girl that always got away for Blake, and now it’s a second chance thing for him. For Jean, she sees Blake as this music persona bad-boy that she shouldn’t want, but she does. He’s her weakness. Everything about him is wrong, but maybe he’ll be the exception. They’re both broken people looking for stability and a better future, and they believe they may have found it in each other. Their relationship blooms but there are problems. To keep this spoiler free, I’ll stop here.

The biggest lesson that Blake refuses to learn is when to quit. He acts like he is 20 years younger than what he is. His lifestyle has become too much for his body to keep up. He has the chance to slow down when his old protégée, Colin Ferrall, offers him a chance to be a songwriter again. Blake refuses because Blake wouldn’t be singing the songs, Ferrall’s character would. Blake, like most of us, doesn’t want to admit his career is over. He’ll never headline a big arena again; he will have to settle to being the opener. The world has moved on, and he didn’t follow.

Now, obviously, the stand out performance is Jeff Bridges. He is fantastic as Bad Blake and will no doubt win the Oscar. Now, I enjoyed the movie, but there were problems with it. The ending is a little too idyllic for my taste and parts of the story were slow. This story also felt like The Wrestler but with the background of country music instead of wrestling. But like The Wrestler, this isn’t a movie about plot, it’s about the characters. Without a strong lead, the movie will fail. Thankfully, Bridges carries the movie, and it’s worth a watch just to see him.

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