crazyheart.jpgThis one goes out for all you gals out there who ever lost your head over a man with long hair and a guitar. Crazy Heart.

Jeff Bridges has been nominated four times for an Oscar. But never won. In a way that’s the story of Bad Blake, a broken-down, still-defiant C&W singer who drinks, swears, smokes and drives his way through Crazy Heart, the Scott Cooper film starring Bridges.

Imagine if the Dude of Big Lebowski fame had talent and still burned for something he hadn’t quite gotten to. That would be close to the character Bridges burns into the screen in this gem of a performance.

Oh the film itself isn’t much, although it gives generously of burnished southwest scenery and foot-stompin’ country rock music. Not enough tension or plot to really give cinephiliacs something substantial to chew on. But I didn’t care. Bridges was quite enough to keep me in that seat.

Bridges sings and plays — quite well and with acres of attitude — an array of original material written for this film by T Bone Burnett. “Funny how fallin’ feels like flyin’….for a little while,” sings Bad Blake, once a top star whose former side man, Tommy Sweet (Colin Farrell) is now the headliner.

Bad has been reduced to playing third-rate venues, pool halls and bowling alleys, and he can barely put down the bottle long enough to pick up a guitar. And then he meets a journalist (Maggie Gyllenhaal), who should know better, but does what almost any woman with any hormones would do. She falls for Bad (who, as you can guess, lives up to his name). And he finds himself getting serious about the younger woman and her son.
But this film doesn’t take the usual predictable pathways to a country and western ending. So stick around for the slight, but believable ending.

Meanwhile, there’s the magnificent Bridges to wallow in. The dramatic cinematography chisels his features in every shot. Caravaggio meets Edward Hopper in a cheap motel room. Even with scruffy beard and paunch, this man oozes virility. Bridges abandons every shred of vanity to play his broken-down character to the hilt. Bad smokes and drinks like there was no tomorrow, and be advised that Crazy Heart doesn’t flinch about showing the gut-wrenching wages of the boozy lifestyle.

About ten minutes into this film, I realized that Crazy Heart was Bridges’ equivalent of Mickey Roarke’s The Wrestler. Only I’m hoping that he walks away with this Oscar for this one.