Ok, this review probably isn’t what you were expecting nor what I had hoped to write, but I’ll give you an honest opinion of what I thought, but don’t take my word for it, go see it, experience it and then perhaps we can talk about the film over a peanut butter sandwich and cold glass of lime cordial. I’ve also had to write this in my lunch break, so if there are errors, let me know…
Jeff Bridges is an extremely watchable actor, he of course cemented himself as one of the all time legendary characters in the Coen Brothers’ The Big Lebowski as ‘The Dude’ and has had a career spanning about 40 years in the film industry. Despite being nominated 4 times previously, 2010 was destined to be the year of Jeff and, as you will have undoubtedly seen, Bridges took home the Best Leading Male Oscar at this years’ Academy Awards ceremony. However, and it a big one and potentially quite controversial, whilst it is a remarkable performance there was still something missing for me that made me think, “Why didn’t Colin Firth win!” I will explain…
Crazy Heart is the tale of a worn-down country singer and an unusual bond between him and a budding journalist. Having had his spirit broken by multiple failed marriages, too much time on the road, and too many nights at the bottom of a bottle, Bad Blake (Jeff Bridges) had started to feel like he was headed down the path of no return. When probing young writer Jean (Maggie Gyllenhaal) digs deep enough to unearth the broken man behind the legend, however, Bad realises that redemption may not be such a long shot after all.
So why did I leave the cinema screen so underwhelmed last night? Well the film, adapted from the novel by Thomas Cobb, really is Jeff Bridges’ crowning moment, but perhaps that is all it is. I was expecting the film itself to be like a supportive parent at a rugby game, cheering on their offspring from the sideline, but this wasn’t the case. The direction and story are perhaps a little too wayward for my liking. There are moments of the film that appear to have just been thrown in for good measure rather than good story telling. In the latter third of the film a massive chunk of Bad’s life is just glossed over. For me I wanted to see more time spent lingering on the shell of a human being that Bad had become as a result of his incessant alcohol consumption. I almost feel that, whilst I did feel for the character, Bridges’ performance had even more to give. In much the same way as Tom Ford just points the camera as Colin Firth and let’s him act, Scott Cooper does the same, but that is all he does. The camera work is somewhat lifeless and you only really tend to notice it when Bad takes to the stage and he is drenched in the spotlight (It’s very reminiscent of the really well shot “battle” scenes from 8 Mile). The support that Bridges receives in the form of Maggie Gyllenhaal, Robert Duvall and Colin Farrell is welcomed with open arms as I think they are all generally good actors, but it is only Gyllenhaal that is given room to really flex her acting muscles. There also has to be a mention of the incredible musical talent of Bridges and Farrell who sing and play on screen, but I just can’t see past the film package as a whole, and for that I can’t help feel sad.
I really wanted to LOVE this film because JB is a hero and I’m super psyched about seeing him in Tron at Christmas. Sadly the somewhat predictable script and lifeless camera work really let the film down. Definately go and see it if you want to see Bridges in the form of his life, but there was a reason that the film wasn’t nominated in any of the other categories at the Oscars. I almost feel like I’ve let Jeff down by writing this next sentence, but I need to stand by my convictions… If you really want to see a performance and a film that encompasses everything from mood, style and tone, please.. for me… put A Single Man on your LOVEFILM list.
Agree? Disagree? Tell me. Then if we disagree we can get naked and wrestle.
Thanks for reading!