MOVIE RATING: 4.5 stars (A-)
(Updated February 19, 2012)
I finally watched Crazy Heart (2009) with Jeff Bridges, Robert Duvall and Maggie Gyllenhaal about 2 weeks ago. I’ve been wanting to see this movie since I first heard about it last Fall. I kept trying to rent it from Redbox but it was always “checked out” when I searched for it during the first few weeks of its DVD release. Obviously I wasn’t alone in my desire to see Jeff Bridges’ Oscar-winning performance as a lonely and emotionally broken country singer named Bad Blake.
Immediately from the opening visual shot of the film, I had a sense that I was going to like this movie. The photography was absolutely brilliant throughout the film, along with the production design, writing, acting and music. Jeff earned his Oscar with this performance. I was so enthralled with the visual shots that I looked up the Director of Photography (DP) for the film on imdb.com while I was watching. I just had to know who was behind this visual smorgasbord of cool shots and great lighting. Turns out it was Cinematographer Barry Markowitz. I’ve only seen one of his previous films that he has shot: All The Pretty Horses (2000) with Matt Damon, which I can’t say was memorable. But I was very impressed with Markowitz’s eye on this film.
As far as the story, I was continually interested in the unraveling of Bad Blake’s persona, his past, and his relationships. I wonder more and more why it seems that great musicians, artists, and other creative people often have drug and alcohol problems. It seems to be a common theme I’ve seen in much of the great art and music I love. Is it the artist’s success, or lack of success, that drives them to drink or take drugs? Is it the work, i.e. the creations that they are bringing forth that cause them to turn to substances? Or is it their psychology and life experiences, good and bad? One has to ask the question I think of whether being creative causes substance abuse or whether substance abuse causes being creative? When I look at great music from Led Zeppelin, Nirvana, Jimi Hendrix and so many other musicians that was created while they were on something, I wonder if we would have that great music if they hadn’t been high or drunk. I’m not going to pretend that I have the answers to these questions, but part of watching Crazy Heart for me was re-visiting these questions for myself and simply appreciating artists for who they are, flaws and all.
What I love about a movie like Crazy Heart is that it feeds my soul and my passion for wanting to tell stories through film. It’s filled with interesting characters, stories and details that makes life rich and worthy of sharing. They aren’t all nice and neat details, but some of them are flawed and f*cked up. But that’s what life is. It doesn’t all fit into a perfect package. Sometimes the greatest gifts come with the greatest flaws.