5th time lucky for crazy Bridges

KATHMANDU: Crazy Heart — Jeff Bridges’ fifth Oscar nomination and first Oscar win is about a washed-up alcoholic Country and Western singer Bad Blake, who looks at the world from the bottom of a bottle. From being an American icon, he has descended to playing at bowling alleys where he arrives, drinks, sings with a voice tinged with too much booze and too many cigarettes. Mid songs he leaves the stage, throws up in the loo and comes back without missing a beat. Years of being on the road have given him a degree of hard wired professionalism.

Says Kathleen C Fennessy, “In a career filled with unforced, naturalistic performances, Jeff Bridges gives one of his finest in Crazy Heart. His oft-married, booze-soaked troubadour Bad Blake has just rolled into Santa Fe when he meets Maggie Gyllenhaal’s journalist Jean. ‘Where do all the songs come from?’ she asks during their initial encounter. ‘Life, unfortunately,’ he sighs. Against Jean’s better judgment, her fling with Blake blooms into a full-fledged relationship. Between gigs, Blake hangs out with the divorcée and her 4-year-old son, with whom he establishes an instant rapport. While Blake plays juke joints, his protégé, Tommy Sweet (Colin Farrell, cast against type to fine effect), plays stadiums, but just when director Scott Cooper’s debut seems to be going down the same path as A Star Is Born, Sweet offers his mentor an opportunity that could revive his reputation. Between Jean and Tommy, things start looking up for Blake until a critical error puts his stab at redemption in jeopardy.”

Of the 16 songs in the movie Bridges sings five songs including one with Farrell while Farrell does one on his own but The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart) which won an Oscar is a song sung by Ryan Bingham.

Adds Roger Ebert, “His acting is as clear as running water. Look at him playing Bad Blake in Crazy Heart. The notion of a broke-down, boozy country singer is an archetype in pop culture. Bad Blake makes us believe it happened to him.

There’s a line of dialogue in the movie that I jotted down at the time, and it’s been cited by several critics. Bad Blake is being interviewed in his shabby motel room by Jean Craddock (Maggie Gyllenhaal, up for Best Supporting role), a newspaper reporter. He’s been interviewed about his downfall too many times. He says, “I want to talk about how bad you make this room look.”

It’s the kind of line written by a singer-songwriter, the masking of emotion by ironic displacement, the indirect apology for seedy circumstances. She blushes. I can’t think of a better way for the movie to get to where it has to go next. Just that he wrote a great line of a country song, and it was for her.

Bad Blake was a star once, years ago. He has lyrics that go, I used to be somebody, but now I’m somebody else.” His loyal manager (James Keane) once booked him in top venues. As Crazy Heart opens, Bad is pulling up to a bowling alley. ‘It’s this year’s The Wrestler,’ one of my

colleagues observed after the screening. Yes. Bad still has a few loyal fans, but you get the feeling they have followed him to the

bottom. He has a son he’s lost touch with and hasn’t written a good song in a long time. In the old days, he toured with a kid named Tommy Sweet (Colin Farrell). Now Tommy is a big star, but contrary to the conventions of such stories, hasn’t forgotten his old teacher and remains loyal.”