Jeff bridges the artistic mind and the 'Crazy Heart'

By Michael Richter

Crazy Heart, directed by Scott Cooper, is one of those movies that exist for the sole purpose of winning awards. The film features solid performances, a simple narrative, and that general indie vibe that you may expect from an Oscar hopeful. It was never expected to attract a wide audience, and it is likely that the only place you have heard of it is on movie websites or through some form of highbrow advertising. Though if you have an interest in quality acting or even just country music, this movie has plenty to offer in both areas.Jeff Bridges stars as Bad Blake, a down-and-out country music singer who travels the country performing in cheap night clubs for small audiences. Despite all his problems with alcohol, bad relationships, and his estranged son, he remains a dedicated musician and a very likable character. From here the plot follows a very predictable path. There is a woman (played by Maggie Gyllenahaal) who makes him realize the follies of his past and a path to the future, her son, who brings out the fatherly side of the character, and of course the various set backs and obstacles that stand in the way of his salvation. There are also small appearances from other surprisingly high-profile actors, including Robert Duvall and Colin Farrell.

The redeeming quality of the movie is undoubtedly Jeff Bridges performance. Despite the very cliché nature of his role, he bears none of the familiar marks that often ruin such a character. Despite all his troubles, Blake does not indulge in self-pity or sentimental ramblings about his problems. He manages to communicate his emotional problems while at the same time bridging, as it were, the gap between funny and course, adding depth to what on paper is a very simple character. His performance is what keeps the audience’s attention through the movie, and it is no surprise that Bridges is a favorite for a number of awards.

The other critically acclaimed aspect of the film is the soundtrack. While most Mac students will not appreciate the heavily country sampling, music producer T Bone Burnett (“Walk the Line” and “O Brother Where Art Thou”) is a nominee for best original song at this year’s Academy Awards. Even if you don’t like country music, it is interesting to see how the director uses it to establish the characters.

So if you have any interest in breaking the bounds of Macalester’s on-campus entertainment, take a walk down to the Grandview Theater and see “Crazy Heart.” At the very least it will give you a leg up in assessing this year’s art films, and you will see a fine bit of acting by Jeff Bridges.