Blu-Ray Review: Oscar Winner Jeff Bridges in Excellent ‘Crazy Heart’

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CHICAGO – The Oscar-winning “Crazy Heart,” recently released on Blu-ray and DVD, is miraculous proof that sometimes a veteran actor need merely wait for the right young director to write them the part that will finally get them the credit they deserve. Jeff Bridges has long been Hollywood’s most underrated leading man and it took debut writer/director Scott Cooper to get him long-deserved praise.

HollywoodChicago.com Blu-Ray Rating: 4.0/5.0
Blu-Ray Rating: 4.0/5.0

“Crazy Heart” is an excellent film for a number of reason but the most interesting thematic resonance to this viewer is in Cooper’s theories about the expiration on redemption. Is it it ever too late to do the right thing? Movies have told us for years that most of life’s flaws can be corrected with a few apologies and attempts at reconciliation. But life guarantees no such things. Can you go so far over the hill that no amount of regret can ever bring you back to the other side?

Crazy Heart was released on DVD and Blu-Ray on April 20th, 2010.
Crazy Heart was released on DVD and Blu-Ray on April 20th, 2010.
Photo credit: Fox Home Video

Of course, questions like these have long been a part of the fabric of country music and they are just one part of the all-around-excellent “Crazy Heart,” a film that was justly praised as an acting showcase for Jeff Bridges (and, to a lesser but notable extent, Maggie Gyllenhaal), but that works on multiple levels. With excellent music, cinematography that makes one appreciate the U.S. Southwest, and completely genuine characters freed of typical melodrama, “Crazy Heart” is one of the best dramas of 2009 and a must-see on Blu-ray or DVD.

Bridges plays “Bad Blake,” a country moniker that allows him to both hide his own personal demons and even play them up to the crowd. “Oh, that’s just Bad Blake being bad.” Known for his obsession with McClure’s Whiskey as much as for spectacular tunes like “Fallin’ & Flyin’” and “I Don’t Know” (pick up the soundtrack…you won’t regret it), we meet Blake on a gig at a bowling alley, where he proceeds to get drunk, stumble around the stage, vomit between sonds, and then sleep with a townie before moving on. It’s clear that Bad has been living this life for years, drunkenly stumbling from town to town, stage to stage, groupie to groupie.

Crazy Heart was released on DVD and Blu-Ray on April 20th, 2010.
Crazy Heart was released on DVD and Blu-Ray on April 20th, 2010.
Photo credit: Fox Home Video

Bad Blake once worked with the now mega-star Tommy Sweet (Colin Farrell, a surprising casting choice that’s very effective and further proof that this actor is making spectacular decisions at this point in his career), but his former road buddy has moved on. Sorta. Sweet would sure love it if Blake wrote him another hit song but the years when they shared the stage as equals has long past. Bad Blake’s time in the spotlight is starting to grow dim.

After a gig in Santa Fe, Bad Blake meets a sexy young reporter (Gyllenhaal) and the two hit it off during an interview. With only brief, expertly written and performed exchanges, Bridges and Cooper etch a life that once has significant success but also contains notable regret. He mumbles that the day people see his real name on his tombstone could come sooner than anyone thinks, closes down when asked if he has any children, and lashes out at Tommy for using him to climb the ladder to fame. It’s in these little moments that Bad Blake becomes as fully-realized a film character as any in the last few years. He’s more than just a writer’s creation. He lives and breathes before the movie begins and after it ends. Bridges brings history to the man in the wrinkles on his face and the gravel in his voice. It’s not just the Best Actor performance of 2009. It’s one of the best of the last several years.

Of course, Bad Blake and the young reporter, who also happens to be a single mother, fall in something close to love, but “Crazy Heart” never devolves into melodrama even in the very serious action of the final act. Like a great country song, “Crazy Heart” touches something relatable in all of us and does so in a way that’s hard to forget. You’ll want to see it again.

Which makes buying it on Blu-ray the way to go. Sadly, Fox hasn’t exactly pulled out all the stops for their Oscar winner. It’s not a bad package and the film itself looks and sounds good, but I wouldn’t be surprised to be a more special one down the road with commentaries and, here’s a suggestion, the great soundtrack included. For now, buyers will find a featurette, deleted scenes, and alternate music cuts.

‘Crazy Heart’ is released by Fox Home Video and stars Jeff Bridges, . It was written and directed by Nancy Meyers. The Blu-Ray and DVD will be released on April 27th, 2010. It is rated R.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

By BRIAN TALLERICO
Content Director
HollywoodChicago.com
brian@hollywoodchicago.com

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