In New York City's Harlem circa 1987, an overweight, abused, illiterate teen who is pregnant with her second child is invited to enroll in an alternative school in hopes that her life can head in a new direction.
An elderly Margaret Thatcher talks to the imagined presence of her recently deceased husband as she struggles to come to terms with his death while scenes from her past life, from girlhood to British prime minister, intervene.
Richard E. Grant
In 19th-century France, Jean Valjean, who for decades has been hunted by the ruthless policeman Javert after breaking parole, agrees to care for a factory worker's daughter. The decision changes their lives for ever.
Bad Blake is a broken-down, hard-living country music singer who's had way too many marriages, far too many years on the road and one too many drinks way too many times. And yet, Bad can't help but reach for salvation with the help of Jean, a journalist who discovers the real man behind the musician. Written by
Fox Searclight Pictures
In his directorial debut, Scott Cooper adapts Thomas Cobb's Crazy Heart, the story of Bad Blake, a washed-up country star with an alcohol addiction. The film stars Jeff Bridges, in the lead role, and Maggie Gyllenhaal as Jean, a young reporter is taken in by Blake's heartache and pain.
Cooper's direction is of subtle greatness. The film is quiet, slow-paced, but works. It's never meant to be loud or over-the-top, which some may be expecting; it's a beautiful written song about life thrust into a two-hour sympathy riot. Bridges, who will surely receive Oscar attention, is reserved, charismatic, and raw. Bridges' 58-year-old Blake is one of the better performances of the year. There are obvious comparisons to Robert Duvall's performance Tender Mercies, with critics believing a possibly similarity to Mickey Rourke's work in The Wrestler, which is certainly not the case, this is unique in its own way. Bridges doesn't overcook the role which would have been easy, he's effortless and sings quite well.
Maggie Gyllenhaal, Oscar snubbed for her works in Sherrybaby and World Trade Center, is nearly average in her work. She's coy with Jean and underplays her, but unlike Bad Blake, her role doesn't call for it. Jean is a bruised, kindhearted, and devoted mother to her four-year old son Buddy (Jack Nation, as cute as can be), but uneven in narrative forming.
Robert Duvall is brief, and nearly ineffectual. As the bar owner Wayne, he offers a humanity for Blake outside of woman, which is needed in the film, but in the end is unmemorable. Also sharing this boat is the talented Colin Farrell, who's both likable and adequate, but upstaged by scenes with Bridges.
The only thing more beautiful than Bridges' performance is the song "The Weary Kind," which is submission for Best Original Song for the Academy Awards. This is one of the best songs written for a film in the last ten years. Delightful lyrics and exquisitely executed, the song one of the rare occasions of the perfect song for a perfect film, given the film's nature.
While Crazy Heart doesn't offer anything insightful to the realm of cinema, it's simple, uncomplicated, and honest, which you can't appreciate. For a first time out, Cooper does an admirable job.
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