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</script></div>{/googleAds}Straight from the sawdust covered floors of Texas barrooms to the sparkling Cineplex screens across America comes the story of Bad Blake, a one-time famous country singer now swooning and sinking in his own filth of heartbreak and addiction; Blake is so low in spirits and burnt-out ambition that he's not even close to delivering a swansong. Written and directed by Scott Cooper, Crazy Heart is a perfectly pint-sized movie that has its sights on something larger: an academy award for its aging star, the cool and collected Jeff Bridges whose performance as the likable Bad Blake is reason enough to brave the coldest of winter storms and see this gem of a movie.

Bad Blake is, speaking in a figurative manner, a dead man walking; he's unknown to the modern country scene and overshadowed by his protege, Tommy Sweet (Colin Farrell who seems to be acting as a Keith Urban-type figure). There simply is no meaning anymore in Blake's life; his songs mean nothing to him anymore and he lives off of what his past glories can give him (an occasional hand out at the liquor store) and his only salvation is swelling inside the whiskey bottle. He refuses for rather humorous reasons - to write another song and his drunken performances at low-end dives are as lifeless as his career. Blake's tense relationship with Sweet is a difficult one to manage; his career depends on Sweet's rising status, but Blake - typifying the quiet man's approach to success is too proud to accept Tommy's assistance.

Crazy HeartResilient as ever in his phenomenally diverse acting career, Bridges is once again on fire with this performance. There is a fierce intelligence to his characterization of Bad Blake and his charm will win your heart despite the personal vices that are repulsive and destructive to most relationships between audience and actor. Unlike Bridges, Bad Blake is in the last throws of his music career; he is a horrible drunk and respects his own talents as much as he does his audience not at all. His manager has him tied-up with roadside performances at smoky dives and crowded bowling alleys and Blake drives to each performance in his beat-up truck a symbol of his own well-mangled (by alcohol addiction and love gone wrong) heart.

Blake is in no shape for dealing with the outside world and when Jean (Maggie Gyllenhaal) arrives, along with a son in need of a father, one can see how the situation between the two Blake and Jean could go horribly wrong. And, after an all-too brief romance full of misty-eyed moments and second-chance longings between the two leads, big mistakes involving Blake and Jean's son occur; however, there is no real surprise with the action and consequences on-screen especially in this redemption piece. Perhaps the telegraphed tragedy is the weakest part of Cooper's screenplay; it certainly is not the acting... or the music.

The story and songs of Bad Blake is unquestionably reminiscent of 1983's award-winning Tender Mercies starring Robert Duvall as burnt-out country singer Mac Sledge and Tess Harper as his love interest; however, this fact really shouldn't be a deterrent in appreciating the performances throughout Crazy Heart. After all, can there really be too many stories about the type of life outlined in a Willie Nelson song? I'm pretty sure Hank Williams built a three-generational legacy on wine, women, and those â"why not?" moments of life. Duvall, also starring in Crazy Heart as Blake's confidant and sole friend, shares producing credits of Crazy Heart alongside Cooper; obviously the redemptive similarities in the narratives are something Duvall believes in wholeheartedly.

While Bridges as Bad Blake - sounding every bit like David Allan Coe, but looking like the Waylon Jennings of the '70s - might have a future as a country singer (if rumors are to be believed), what is a certainty about Crazy Heart are the amount of awards the soundtrack (produced by T Bone Burnett), the original song entitled â"The Weary Kind" (written and performed by Ryan Bingham), and the acting from Bridges are sure to garner this year.

Component Grades
4 stars
1 Star
DVD Experience
2.5 stars


DVD Details:

Screen Formats: 2.35:1
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Closed captioned
Language and Sound: English: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo
Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access.



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Deleted Scenes:

Number of Discs: 1 with Keepcase Packaging