Jeff Bridges is riding mighty high these days. His performance in “Crazy Heart” is generating so much attention it looks as though he’s a shoo-in for an Oscar this year. And that’s a tough call given the outstanding work from all of the nominees for Best Actor.
Bridges plays Bad Blake (gotta love the name), a broken-down alcoholic country singer who’s been reduced to playing in bowling alley bars. But that’s OK for Bad. Getting by is all he cares about — until he meets Jean (Maggie Gyllenhaal, also up for an Oscar). Twenty-five years his junior, she manages to re-ignite that long lost spark of hope, which Bad so desperately needs.
Few actors have maintained the flawless reputation acquired by Bridges over the course of 35 years. He possesses that rare gift of becoming his character. As you watch him in films such as “The Big Lebowski” and “Starman,” you truly believe he’s the guy. Acting without acting defines Bridges’ immense talent.
As if it couldn’t get any better, Bridges sings and plays the guitar in “Crazy Heart,” adding vast credibility to his performance. The original-and-totally-rockin’ songs are written by T-Bone Burnett and Stephen Bruton. Colin Farrell (who also does his own singing) plays Bad’s protégé with such respect it almost seems like art imitating life. Halfway through the film, Robert Duvall shows up in a small but powerful role as Bad’s old friend. Not bad casting for first time director and former actor Scott Cooper.
Bad Blake is a guy who buckles up when he gets out of the car (having urinated en route via plastic container). Somehow it just seems right. As I see it, The Dude has magnificently morphed into Bad Blake, and it’s a damn fine move.
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