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Crazy Heart


Stars: Jeff Bridges, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Colin Farrell, Robert Duvall, Rick Dial, Jack Nation

Director: Scott Cooper

Super, deep-throated country singing by Bridges and, to a lesser extent, Farrell, covers some of the deficiencies in this rather long and slow, but still quite good story of degradation and redemption. Both sound as if they've been singing the music all their lives.

At 57, Bad Blake (Bridges) has been through four wives, countless one-night stands, hundreds of bottles of whisky and thousands of cigarettes. Once a star but now reduced to singing in bars, pool halls and bowling alleys, Bad's health is shot to hell: he frequently dashes from the stage to be sick.

Life takes on a softer tone when he's interviewed by local journalist Jean (Gyllenhaal) with whom he starts an affair, becoming acquainted with her four-year-old son Buddy (Nation). He also gets a prestige gig, opening for superstar Tommy Sweet (Farrell), who once played with Bad's band.

Still, the whisky bottle and smokes continue to dominate his life and his relationships, and matters come to a head when he loses Buddy while half-cut in a bar.

Bridges, who may well win a long-overdue Oscar for this, is Bad to the leathery life, while Gyllenhaal offers her usual engaging, slightly quirky, sideways-glancing performance, and the atmosphere of bleak bowling alleys and boozy bars seems like the real thing. There's excellent colour photography, too, even if the film's pace is sometimes as weary and wheezy as ol' Bad himself.

David Quinlan

USA 2009. UK Distributor: 20th Century Fox (Fox Searchlight). Colour by Fotokem.
111 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 13 Feb 2010