Crazy Heart (Blu-ray)
Much like T-Bone Burnett’s work on O’ BROTHER WHERE ART THOU prompted millions of people to run out and buy/download ‘Man of Constant Sorrow’, I’m sure his work on CRAZY HEART will sell more than a few soundtracks. The music in the film is great and has already made its way onto my iPod. Unfortunately, I can’t say the movie had the same impact as the overly linear telling of the film failed to match the remarkable performance of Jeff Bridges and the great music of Mr. Burnett.
Bridges is Bad Blake, a former country music superstar that now tours bowling alleys and dive bars in the middle of nowhere. He has no money and when he gets a little cash, he blows it on whiskey. While working with a fellow musician, he meets Jean Craddock (Maggie Gyllenhaal) who is working on a story about Bad for the local paper. They start up a romance as Bad starts to reconnect with his former protégé Tommy Sweet (Colin Farrell). But Bad can’t stay away from the booze and his addiction continues to destroy his life.
Jeff Bridges has received a lot of attention for his great turn as Bad Blake, but I felt that Maggie Gyllenhaal also turned in a wonderful performance. Her relationship with Bad Blake was a tricky thing to pull off given the age difference and the contrasts between the two characters. But she looked at Bad with a longing and adoration that clearly defined how she could fall for him and the eventual heartache she felt after he let her down was all shown in her eyes. I respect Maggie as an actress, but I don’t think I’ve ever been captivated by one of her performances to the extent as I was in this. She did a wonderful job and her performance carried the relationship between Jean and Bad.
Although Bridges and Gyllenhaal are great, the music is the real star of the film. It’s a good thing T-Bone Burnett was involved and that the music was enjoyable; we heard a lot of it throughout the film. It did help to move the film along and I liked watching Bridges and Farrell belt out the songs. But there were times I felt the film relied too heavily on the music and I would have liked to see more time with Bad dealing with his issues rather than singing about them. Of course, that didn’t stop me from buying the soundtrack right after I finished the film.
As much as I enjoyed the performances and the music, I can’t help but walk away from CRAZY HEART a little disappointed. I wanted a deeper meaning and some exploration of more complex themes, but at the end of the day, this is just a movie about a former country music star struggling with alcoholism. Without two incredible performances, the film would have been instantly forgettable. That’s not a bad thing, but the movie experience was a little underwhelming. However, the soundtrack to the film is a completely different story.
Video: This is not the best transfer we’ve seen from Fox and it had a problem with the black levels and over saturation during the darker lit scenes. It wasn’t horrible by any means, but for such a dark film, I wanted a better presentation.
Audio: The audio was fine and I’m sure the extended musical performances will get played more than once.
Deleted Scenes (28:21): The extended music sequences are a joy to watch, although I wish they would have been in HD. The deleted scenes were pretty boring with the exception of one that furthered the story of Bad trying to reunite with his son. Seeing that, it made it feel like that was originally a bigger story than what it turned out to be.
What Brought Them to Crazy Heart (3:01): Bridges, Gyllenhaal and Robert Duvall briefly discuss the film. This was way too short to be relevant.