There are a lot of comparisons that can be made between “Crazy Heart” and last year’s breakout “The Wrestler.” Both are excellent dramas that feature severely flawed yet endearing main characters, heartbreaking stories, and a sense of optimism amidst the hardship. Behind the exceedingly talented Jeff Bridges, “Crazy Heart” succeeds because of the believability of the performances and the way it effortlessly documents the trials and tribulations of it’s main character.

Bad Blake (Bridges), is an aging country singer who has had many personal setbacks. He’s an alcoholic, has had several failed marriages, and is barely making ends meet by playing shows in bowling alleys and saloons across the American West. Additionally, he is losing his relevance as a one time star, as evidenced by the Brad Paisley-like success of his former protege, Tommy Sweet (Colin Farrell).  Despite nearly self-destructing several times, he is someone who loves what he does and never lets his situation get the best of him.

It is these qualities that let New Mexican journalist Jean (Maggie Gyllenhaal) to take her chances on Blake. Their relationship is both a source of inspiration and pain for Blake, as his old habits come back to bite him in some of the worst possible ways. However, upon realizing his mistakes, the country singer decides to get his life back in order. This gives the film a redemptive quality to it.

Bridges performance has Oscar written all over it, as he injects emotional depth and an ungodly amount of grit into Blake’s character (both he and Farrell also have surprisingly good country singing voices). It is a truly heart wrenching performance. Gyllenhaal does a great job of portraying a broken single mom who just wants someone to treat her and her four year old son right, her emotional outbursts as glaring proof. Farrell’s turn as the star who wants to help his mentor and Robert Duvall as Blake’s friend Wayne round things out with aplomb.

“Crazy Heart” pulls you in and doesn’t let go until the end of the final scene. It is a striking achievement and one that will undoubtedly withstand the test of time.

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