Mar 222010
 
Authors: Laura James

Just more than two weeks ago Jeff Bridges, the star of the indie film “Crazy Heart,” won an Oscar for his portrayal of an aging country music icon in rapid decline. It is one of the better films released in 2009.

In very much the style of Nicholas Cage in “Leaving Las Vegas,” Bridges’ character, Bad Blake, is drinking himself to death. Bad Blake, a 57-year-old alcoholic chain smoker with emphysema, is overweight and out of luck.

While on what will likely be his last music tour, Bad bounces across the southwest from crappy bar to even crappier bowling alley playing classics from his repertoire for his aging fan base.

When a young journalist in Santa Fe, N.M. takes an interest in Bad, his heart is softened and reluctantly toys with the idea of writing music again. The journalist, played by Maggie Gyllenhaal, is a single mother of a 4-year-old son whom Bad takes a liking to and develops a tentative friendship.

As a tertiary character, Collin Farrell stars as Bad’s former protégé Tommy Sweet, whom Bad’s managers are desperately trying to secure a duet album with for Bad. Resenting the success of Tommy Sweet, Bad continues to drink heavily despite the growing relationship between him and Gyllenhaal’s character.

Bad hits rock bottom in true rock star fashion and eventually goes to rehab after successfully destroying any chance of a relationship with Gyllenhaal and her son. In a surprising feel-good turnaround, Bad is able to write music again.

Although Bridges’ performance is powerful, the music of the movie is almost a bigger star. Composed by T-Bone Burnett, famous composer of the music for films like “Cold Mountain” and “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?,”the music for “Crazy Heart” makes the toes tap and the heart sing.

You don’t need to be a fan of country music to appreciate and enjoy the tunes of “Crazy Heart.”

Although the performances in “Crazy Heart” were very good, the movie is just another testament to the devastations of alcoholism. The plot has been explored many times before, and the audience is just lucky to have the chance to see Jeff Bridges perform at the peak of his career.

“Crazy Heart” is definitely worth renting, and the soundtrack will fly off the shelves.

Movie reviewer Laura James can be reached at verve@collegian.com.

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