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"Crazy Heart" Review

Jeff Bridges is finally going to win an Oscar for his performance in Crazy Heart. The story of an aging, run-down, alcoholic country singer, it travels the well-worn roads of the genre with a few twists in its desert highways. Fueled by an authentic whiskey-soaked batch of songs by T-Bone Burnett, it's at its best when it sticks to the music, especially his tangled connection with a former sideman now big star in his own right. (I'm not saying who plays him because it's a surprising bit of casting.)

Not as good is a slow patch midway in after he's laid up and dallying with Maggie Gyllenhaal, a reporter who looked at this shambling wreck of a man and thought, "Yeah, I need some of this in my life." Her attraction to him is never really explained or motivated, so her reaction to one defining incident is more annoying than justified. However, I do give the film credit for not ending the way you'd expect a drunken-burnout-seeking-redemption movie would end.

In the end, the reason to see Crazy Heart is for Bridges remarkably uncliched performance in what is a tailor-made piece for Oscar-whoring. Fat, drunk, sad life? Check, check, and check, but it still seems fresh in Bridges hands. Some think this makes up for not getting nominated for The Big Lebowski; I think it acknowledges over 35 years of good work in films like Fearless and The Fabulous Baker Boys. I abide Jeff getting the gold.

Score: 7/10. Catch it on cable.


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