Blu-ray Review
by Kevin Carr

    MOVIE: **1/2 (out of 5 stars)
    BLURAY EXPERIENCE: ** (out of 5 stars)

    Jeff Bridges as BAD BLAKE
    Maggie Gyllenhaal as JANE CRADDOCK
    Robert Duvall as WAYNE
    Colin Farrell as TOMMY SWEET

    Rated R
    Studio: Fox Searchlight

    Directed by: Scott Cooper

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Aging country-western singer Bad Blake (Jeff Bridges) is struggling to make ends meet and deal with his depressing, alcoholic lifestyle. When he meets a young writer named Jane (Maggie Gyllenhaal) and begins a relationship with her, he seeks a change in life. But that will mean leaving his drinking ways behind and facing some of the resentment he has towards past business matters.

The biggest draw of “Crazy Heart” is the performances. Like many of the other award films from 2009, “Crazy Heart” was very clearly a grab at the acting Oscar for Jeff Bridges. It was a successful grab, as he pretty much swept the entire award season.

Yes, Bridges did a fine job as the aging singer, and he really brought a level of truth and empathy to the performance. Likewise, the supporting roles from Gyllenhaal and Robert Duvall were equally well played. It is for these performances that this movie stands.

The other impressive part of this movie was on a technical level for such a small film. The cinematography was a perfect mix between the brilliant landscapes of the southwest and the dingy seediness of random bars around the country. It’s a bit sad that the performances took away some of the accolades from this element of the filmmaking process.

I’m not a huge fan of these Oscar grab pieces, and 2009 seemed to be filled with them. In fact, with the exception of Jeremy Renner in “The Hurt Locker,” all the other Best Actor nominees were very blatant award season fodder. It’s not that Bridges didn’t deserve his awards, but it seems that this movie would not have been made were it not for that possibility.

Also, when it comes to award season, this kind of story is nothing new. A has-been dealing with a drinking problem and an affair with a much younger woman seems to be so commonplace in the films released at the end of the year that it becomes mundane. Then you add to the fact that “Crazy Heart” is basically a live-action version of the cliche country-western song with a man down on his luck and losing everything in his life, it comes very close to being a joke about itself. Fortunately, the film pulls away from that level of self parody just enough to make it a serious film.

The Blu-ray comes with the film in high definition as well as on a separate disc for Digital Copy purposes. There are a handful of deleted scenes and alternate music cuts for fans of the old-school country-western singing that comes from the soundtrack (and also won some deserved awards this year). Finally, there’s a featurette putting a spotlight on the actors: “Jeff Bridges, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Robert Duvall on What Brought Them to Crazy Heart.”

Fans of films that make a serious grab at the Best Actor Oscar... and anyone who wants to see a country-western song come to life on screen.

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