Jeff Bridges has played a character sort of like this before, in the Fabulous Baker Boys. In the earlier movie, his bad boy piano player worked those sad piano bars in the lounges of second rate hotels. In
Crazy Heart, when he works in seedy little joints to sing his country music, it doesn’t seem as depressing. It seems authentic. The Baker Boys didn’t have to sing, just play, the old standards. Bad Blake, his character in Crazy Heart, wrote all his songs of heartache that he is still living through.
The movie centers on a broken down 57 year old talented drunk named Bad Blake and whether he can get his act together before it is too late. He had had success on the road with another musician, Tommy Sweet (played by Colin Farrell who strangely is not given top billing even though he is an important part of the plot, and has some of the most satisfying musical scenes with Bridges), who is now more successful than he is, and younger, and better looking, etc. causing all sorts of resentment and wounded pride.
Maggie Gyllenhaal plays Jean, a journalist who enters his life when Blake is working a small club in Santa Fe and she approaches him for an interview. The softening of Blake’s crusty character brings some tender moments to the movie, with Gyllenhaal and her slow flirtatious smile that fills in for a host of emotions. She is an attractive person to watch, with great physical appeal, and when she gets mad, as she must in this film, she is very fine.
I loved the way the two men sounded when they were singing, and I loved the way Robert Duvall can act circles around anybody just by standing still. In this movie, he gets to sing a little too. And it is a beautiful thing.