Crazy Heart

‘I used to be somebody, but now I am somebody else’ - Bad Blake

Jeff Bridges is a brilliant actor. Until my wife introduced me to his screen performances I had never rated him and had the tendency to avoid movies with him in it. He came across as pedestrian. Now having watched a few of his on screen accomplishments, there is no movie featuring him that I would turn my nose up at. In Crazy Heart, which we viewed a few nights ago, he played Bad Blake, an alcohol addicted Country and Western star who broke the law on DWI each time he got into his car to make the journey between venues. He was his own roadie and his trailer was his jeep. So the venues were not packed auditoriums but darkened barrooms and bowling allies.

Anyone familiar with Micky Rourke in Barfly will instantly identify with Crazy Heart. Bad Blake lives in an alcoholic haze which is not lifted even when he looks at the post-make up faces of some of those he wakes up beside the morning after a show. He is 57 and does the circuit picking up bit money, his legendary song writing prowess – his once real financial pulling power - rendered impotent by a whiskey addled brain. While little blue pills might put some firmness into other areas of his life there is no equivalent for tackling song writing dysfunction.

Four times married, five if Maggie Gyllenhaal who effortlessly plays Jean, a journalist who comes to interview him, is right, evidently Bad Blake is not a man who holds things together very well. Jean, who wants to profile him in the paper that employs her, knocks on the door of his hotel room where he is cooped up drunk, almost naked, watching porn, while trying to eat what looks like a tray of prison food. From that moment on it is pretty much a done deal – their lives are going to intertwine. Not a healthy option for a working single mother who has a four year old son in whose presence she forbids alcohol consumption. But forget any notions of a sensually appealing film. Bad Blake and eroticism are mutually repellent. As the film and book blogger Sheila O’Malley writes, you can smell him from the television. She conjures an image of a porous screen through which alcohol just oozes, invading the nostrils. The sensual dimension of the film, to the degree that it is preserved at all, is solely the accomplishment of Jean.

Bad trudges through what remains of his career being resentful of the iconic Tommy Sweet, played by Colin Farrell, whom he regards as the protégé who stole all the plaudits. To the hoards of C & W fans Tommy Sweet is sweet Tommy whereas Bad is just sour and stale, tolerated for past performances rather than lauded for anything new he might produce, which he invariably doesn’t. Pride jars with financial self interest. He needs the money but doesn’t want to open for Tommy in front of an audience of 12 000. In his resentful state of mind he calculates that Tommy should be opening for him while knowing it can’t happen.

In red neck country where bible bashing is an even greater fixation than Country & Western music, Bad Blake is on the road not to salvation but oblivion. A doctor tells him to quit drinking and smoking and to lose 25 lbs or go under the sod. It falls on deaf ears. Taking responsibility for himself does not enter the equation but when placed in charge of Jean’s four year old son, who he has been told not to drink around – instructions he ignores – the realisation that the world is not his plaything and that it has to be shared with others begins to take hold.

Too late, maybe; but there is a willingness there to salvage something if not all he might have hoped for. The drink is his demon and his battle with it is absorbing viewing. The glass of bourbon I sat down to watch Crazy Heart with was only half finished when the curtain fell.


  1. Barfly was a great wee movie. This sounds similarly hard hitting. Mackers, the glass [bottle?] was only half finished when the curtain fell. Denial is the first symptom big man. lol.

  2. Stick on Kris Kristoffern and Rita Coolidge and play From the bottom of the bottle, ya,ll love it mo cara.

  3. Alot of the booze soaked repertoire of Merle Haggard could fit the soundtrack of Crazy Heart.
    If you're interested you should try and check some of Jeff Bridges early films like Bad Company, Fat City, Rancho Deluxe and Jagged Edge. Always found him a dependable actor, interesting to see what True Grit will be like.

  4. Mackers,

    Theres hope for Albert then?
    Must agree with Carrie, I absolutely love Jeff Bridges and I am going to try and watch this asap.

  5. Brilliant in Thunderbolt and Lightfoot,

  6. Great minds think alike Marty Thunderbolt and Lightfoot was on recently and lucky at the time I was hogging the remote brilliant film, my favorite was George Kennedy thought he was going to explode every time Jeff Bridges said something

  7. Alison Hewitt who was jailed by judge Piers Grant for 3 months for stealing a £10 pair of jeans must have thought we had time traveled back a few hundred years,she is lucky the judge hadnt thought the same ,the black cloth would have been placed on his wig! I wonder how the bold Pier would treat those bankers and devolopers who stole mega bucks,it really is becoming them and us again!

  8. Marty-

    Agree with you- 3 months for a pair
    of 10 pound jeans whilst the bankers who turned there millions
    into billions get of scott free-

    I hear that this young mother got bail to-day, some one see's the
    guilt of that judge.

  9. Marty,

    just in from work and that's the first I heard of that girl being jailed. I think we can agree that judges are rotten bastards

  10. Nuala,

    he is a great actor. And that is a show worth watching

  11. Mackers,
    he was brilliant in 'Jagged Edge' with Glenn Close.

    Albert, said in relation to the tenner jeans, maybe the size of the jeans had some bearing on the actual sentence.
    He said, she should be commended for being able to smuggle all that material out of the shop!

    On a serious note though, I'm glad she got bail, hope there is as much crying though, when child abusers and killers get ridicuously low sentences.

  12. Nuala shall we be breaking bread together tomorrow night in the function in the Sliabh Dubh,and maybe chase the dragon hon?

  13. AM,
    You may also enjoy White Squall, The Fisher King and for the ladies, Against All Odds.

  14. One thing I can say for sure about Jeff Bridges is he is a brave man to take on the role of Rooster Cocburn in True Grit, John Wayne was outstanding in this part and a hard act to follow,and from what I have read and the trailers that I have seen Bridges carries of this role with his usual brilliance, really looking foward to going to see this film.