More then one critic has called this film The Wrestler with country music, and well, yes it is. Pretty much. The same slow-baked character study, the same crucial lead performance. This is a ways off that film, but it certainly follows the formula. But any film that give Jeff Bridges a platform to be this good is certainly not one I'm going to be too harsh on.
Crazy Heart follows Bridges washed up country singer Bad Blake, as he is an alcoholic and asshole. In that order. Playing at venues devoid of dignity and showing a concept of professionalism that is less then strict, Blake basically is canon-balling to an early grave. Thank god journalist Maggie Gyllenhaal is around, with a loose concept of reporter to subject objectivity (worst euphemism ever) and a son with which Bridges can bond. To be honest the film goes exactly where you expect it to, and this film's path to redemption is much simpler then The Wrestler's. Where trying to be a good person isn't enough. Here it is, and it ventures nowhere near as darker territory. Still, there's the Bridges thing. This is the Dude here, and you know he's going to be good. And he is, capturing the right balance of hate, soulfulness and pathetic to do the character justice, all the while keeping it together and not OTTing the shit out of the part. Which certainly could have been the way a lesser actor would have taken the role.
Kudos too to Gyllenhaal, who has managed to take your fairly standard rent-a-girlfriend role and score an Oscar nomination for it. She is continually an interesting presence on screen and while this is far from the best she's ever been or will be, its good for her to get the clout to her allow more interesting performances to ensue. Colin Farrell, who can be known to take supporting roles and make them ridiculous, nicely underplays it here, knowing where the spotlight should be (on Bridges) A smart, controlled little character study Well acted and worth your time, even if it is not blindingly original.