Crazy Heart

Lisa and I go to a movie maybe two or three times a year. Therefore, each visit must count; we don’t go to movies featuring young vampires in love, Miley Cyrus or any other film that leaps out and identifies itself as mediocre or contrived. This week, we did go to a movie, a good one-“Crazy Heart.”

“Crazy Heart” is the story of Otis Blake (played by Jeff Bridges) who has taken the stage name “Bad Blake.” Blake is a country music singer who over the course of fifty seven years has drank too much and wasted too much time. He is at the end of his road. Blake avoids being a cliché in that he isn’t mean nor does he feel sorry for himself; he is really just a survivor. Otis Blake also writes great country music, although that talent lies comatose from his excess use of alcohol.

I think Blake is like most addictive personalities in that his life is empty so he fills it with something easy to find; whiskey. He has the talent to do more with his life but has lost his emotional drive. The Blake character is in need of a God-smack, that thing which puts all of us back on track. The life-changing smack comes along in the form of a woman (surprise!) named Jean Craddock. Craddock (played by Maggie Gyllenhaal) offers love with the condition that Blake not drink in front of her child. Their romance is engaging and honest although made dark and anxious by Blake’s alcoholism which Craddock describes as “living with a rattlesnake.” The relationship Blake develops with Craddock’s child is tender and sweet but overcast by his addiction. Still, all three spend time together in an honest and flawed way that most anyone with some life-experience will find familiar.

I love country music; not the kind that comes as a result of winning a national talent show but the stuff that comes from living life. Bad Blake writes and plays the music of life; in all its disappointing glory. It is the music that can save Blake. It is the love that Craddock offers that can make Blake remember the music. The songs featured in this movie remind me of those written by Merle Haggard, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings, among others. I was told that Jeff Bridges was instructed to listen to the music of “the Highwaymen” in order to gain historical perspective of the part he played so I guess that makes sense.

“Crazy Heart” is a movie worth watching, particularly if you like the music. There are a couple of short scenes of adults doing adults things, however they’re pretty tame. The plot moves at a slow pace as it is character and dialogue-driven; no explosions or chase scenes are featured. The characters are engaging and interesting and I found myself hoping they’d all find happiness. It was a great show and made me want to hold Lisa’s hand; more than enough reason to go.

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