In the spirit of honoring the Academy Awards, this review will focus on Bridges’ Oscar winning role, rather than the entire film. This seems more appropriate for an Oscar focused blog, especially since Crazy Heart is a film driven and focused on Bridges’ performance. In the film, Jeff Bridges plays Bad Blake, an aging, washed up, alcoholic country singer.
What many people remember most from Crazy Heart is Bridges singing and playing his the songs. Now, I’ve listened to classic country music most of my life. Country may be easier on the guitar, but they come so close to the heart that the singing cannot be faked. Bridges captures this idea in his voice perfectly. And it doesn’t matter whether he is drunk on stage or solemnly writing new songs on his porch, that country style brought on by heartache and hard times shines through as if he were channeling Hank Williams.
The most powerful things Bridges shows us about Blake are his low points. Sure, he can remember to dedicate a song to people he met earlier that day, but he will be too busy drunkenly vomiting outside to sing the song. When he quietly walks out of the concert with Tommy Sweet (Colin Farrell, who also sings his own numbers), who was hoping Blake would do a duet with him, we feel a mutual shame and disappointed in him. And when he loses a child as he is trying to satisfy his thirst for whiskey, we know that things have gone too far. The half-drunk, limping desperation Bridges brings in his frantic search in Houston is heartbreaking.
I never believed Bad Blake was really a bad person, just a man who had made some bad decisions. Perhaps earlier in his life, Bad was more appropriate, but who we are shown is a man stuck with an old name he cannot shake. It seems to be one of the things keeping him in his rut. As the film progresses, his atonement for the bad decisions he made becomes more fulfilled. If there were doubts about Blake’s good side, they are washed away.
So far, this has been Bridges’ only Oscar win. Since 1971, in The Last Picture Show, he has been nominated by the Academy for six acting nominations, three for lead actor and three for supporting. His most recent nomination was in 2010 for playing Rooster Cogburn in True Grit.
If I wasn’t lied to, the Oscar statue I held back when I first began this project was intended to go to the winner of Best Actor of 2009. I’m sure my fingerprints, along with countless others, were wiped clean before the ceremony, but it is still fun to think that I got to hold Jeff Bridges’ Oscar back when I was just hoping that it would go to him.
“Ain’t rememberin’ wonderful?”