This film was a story of a man that was lost and needed someone to help him find his way back home to his music. The music is what really stood out in this movie. It was phenomenal! I bought the soundtrack the same day I saw the movie, and haven’t stopped listening to it yet. Scott Cooper (director) used a compilation of country music (original and vintage tunes) and the huge, southwestern sky to tell Thomas Cobb’s story of the weary singer/songwriter Bad Blake (Jeff Bridges).
The storyline follows Blake as he is on the end of a second rate tour of venues that consist of bowling alleys and piano bars. He traveled through the gloriously beautiful Southwestern US in his ’78 Suburban. The openness of the road and the vastness of the sky seemed to represent the possibilities and opportunities Bad was hoping for in his career and his life. On this tour he meets budding journalist Jean (Maggie Gyllenhaal). As Blake falls for her and her adorable son Buddy (Jack Nation) the audience sees how truly, heartbreakingly pathetic he has become, the shell of a once creatively gifted musician. The words of the theme song, “whiskey has been a thorn in your side”, clearly showed the hold that alcohol had on him and how it affected every aspect of his life. Through some bad choices and the consequences that followed, Bad hits rock bottom and is forced to find his way back to life, on that journey he finds the music in him again.
Scott Cooper stated that he needed “a man who’s one part Waylon Jennings, one part Merle Haggard, and one part Kris Kristopherson”. And that man IS Jeff Bridges! He portrayed Bad Blake as the down and out protagonist that, even in his drunken, disheveled, beer-gut glory, you can’t help but want him to overcome it all. With a gruff, but pure voice similar to the late Chris LeDoux, Bridges sung the music with such heartfelt emotions you’ll believe he had lived the life of Blake. As for the secondary characters, Duvall was as charming as ever. Colin Farrell was surprisingly believable and musical as Blake’s protégé Tommy Sweet, who had surpassed Blake in fame. Finally, Blake’s love interest, Jean, gracefully portrayed by Maggie Gyllenhaal, was a woman that had been wounded by love before and was hesitant to be wooed by Blake. She brought such a believable intensity to the emotional scenes in the film, fighting the feelings between mother and lover. Her acting was extremely powerful and the connection between her and Bridges was excellent.
If you are a fan of great country music and the tales of woe that help to craft the sweetest songs you’ll enjoy Crazy Heart… especially the soundtrack!