Crazy Heart–a movie worth a rainy afternoon

When I was a kid in Los Angeles, I never missed Lloyd Bridges on as Mike Nolan on Sea Hunt.  These days, I never want to miss his son Jeff in anything.

The new Bridges movie, Crazy Heart, justifies my lifelong admiration for this acting dynasty. Bridges has been nominated for best actor 4 times, and has yet to win.  Doing his own singing and guitar playing, and bringing depth and heart to a miserable bum of a character, this year may be his turn.

Like last year’s The Wrestler, it is the story of a drunken, washed up, burnt out performer, in this case a country music singer.  Unlike The Wrestler, this time redemption is earned and accomplished.  I always look at Rotten Tomatoes, which aggregates movie reviews from everywhere and rates on the “tomatometer” whether a movie is fresh or rotten.  Crazy Heart scored an impressive 90 on the tomatometer–90% of reviews were favorable.

Bridges stars as Bad Blake, one famous, now reduced to one-nighters in bowling alleys and small town bars.  He meets Jean, played by Maggie Gyllenhaal, and a thunderbolt of love strikes them both.  She has a 4 year old son, who evokes in Bad Blake all the paternal feelings he let go when his first wife left him, taking their 4 year old, who he has never seen again.

Life improves.  Bad gets a break from his former back-up band member, who is now a star. Returning to visit Jean, there is a car wreck, and he is forced to spend a couple of weeks playing house, and things get better yet.  Love deepens.

But then, the inevitable  dramatic moment, when Blake is truly bad, and the relationship founders.  He gets mightily drunk, then calls for help and gets sober in rehab.  You’ll have to see the movie to find out what happens next, but I think it’s worth your time to do just that.  At the Cinearts in Pleasant Hill.

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