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Vol. LXIV, No. 5
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
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For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

THANK YOU FOR BEING MY FRIEND: The down-on-his-luck singer Bad’s (Jeff Bridges, left) life takes a turn for the better when he meets Jean (Maggie Gyllenhall) a young journalist who falls in love with him and decides to help him put his life back together.

Crazy Heart: Jeff Bridges Shines in Bittersweet Character Study

Kam Williams

A year ago, Mickey Rourke was the toast of Hollywood after the release of The Wrestler; a film in which he delivered a memorable performance as a down-on-his-luck loser making the most of his last shot at redemption.

Rourke, whose own life’s trajectory resembled the arc of the character he was portraying, collected a Golden Globe and numerous other awards for his role in the film in 2009.

It looks like Jeff Bridges is about to duplicate Rourke’s feat, since Bridges has also won a Golden Globe for his role in Crazy Heart. The film is a character study that describes a washed-up country singer who is attempting to revive his flagging career. Hollywood has a habit of imitating successful films, which helps explain why the two movies seem so similar in tone.

Let’s compare: Rourke’s “Ram” was a depressed, homeless, sickly, self-abusing ex-wrestler who reconciles with his estranged daughter before returning to the ring with the help of his girlfriend, a stripper with a heart of gold. Bridges, is “Bad,” a chain-smoking, once-famous crooner with a host of woes ranging from alcoholism to emphysema. He also also depends upon a considerably younger woman (Maggie Gyllenhaal) and is trying to track down his son (Brian Gleason), whom he hasn’t seen in 25 years.

At the point of departure, we find Bad crisscrossing the country in his car, doing one-night stands in dives and honky-tonk saloons. A shot at salvation comes the day he meets Jean, a journalist who decides to dedicate herself to getting Bad’s life back on track.

If you haven’t seen The Wrestler, or at least aren’t put off by the sense of déjà vu this film tends to generate, you will probably appreciate Crazy Heart, especially if you are fond of country-western music. A bonus is Bridges (as well as supporting cast members Robert Duvall and Colin Farrell) doing his own singing, which just might be the little extra needed to earn him that elusive Oscar.

Very Good (2½ stars). Unrated. Running time: 112 Minutes. Distributor: Fox Searchlight.

For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

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