Crazy Heart (2009)

Director: Scott Cooper
Jeff BridgesJames KeaneMaggie Gyllenhaal

Plot: A faded country music musician is forced to reassess his dysfunctional life during a doomed romance that also inspires him.

Genre: Drama/Music/Romance
Awards: Won 2 Oscars - Best Leading Actor, Best Original Song.  Nom. for 1 Oscar - Best Supporting Actress
Runtime: 112min
Rating: NC16 for language and brief sexuality.



Much is raved about Jeff Bridges’ Oscar-winning performance in Crazy Heart. His first win in five nominations, Bridges’ win is seen as recognition for his consistently excellent acting throughout his long career in Hollywood. In Crazy Heart, his performance is engaging and quite impressive. But I would fall short of calling it a great performance. He plays Bad Blake, a country singer-guitarist who is past his prime and leads a life of hard-drinking, smoking, and lazing around. He performs occasionally in a worn out bowling alley but for most parts, he is a “loser in life”.

Co-star Maggie Gyllenhaal plays Jean Craddock, a journalist who wants to do a story on Blake. She meets him for regular interviews in his cluttered home and slowly falls into a casual romantic relationship with him. She also has a small son who is adored by Blake, and who will be the cause of a major falling out between the couple. Gyllenhaal’s performance is decent but even though she is nominated for an Oscar here, it is not fairly representative of what she can do, and is seen by critics as giving Bridges’ nomination more “weight” i.e. higher chances of winning.

Crazy Heart is Scott Cooper’s debut feature. It is an above average picture with moments of beauty that alternate with moments of dullness. The music accompanying the film (captured live in stage performances or in pre-recorded tracks) is just about the best thing Cooper is able to offer apart from directing Bridges to an Oscar-winning performance. The song “The Weary Kind” encapsulates what is so rustically charming about country music and is exceptionally performed by Colin Farrell (whose presence in a film like this seems a trifle odd if I may add).

There is something lacking in Crazy Heart. I can attribute this lack to the film’s occasional inability to engage viewers. It is not the fault of the cast, but rather the direction Cooper has chosen to take. Pacing is weak and this causes the story to be told in a (too) relaxed pace. In addition, the conventionality of the film’s storytelling style gives a sense of predictability to its outcome. Crazy Heart is a film which relies almost entirely on the success of the Bridges-Gyllenhaal chemistry. Their performances lift this film from a mediocre picture to a half-decent inquiry into the theme of redemption. 

GRADE: B- (7/10 or 3 stars)

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