“Crazy Heart” (2009). Cast: Jeff Bridges, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Paul Herman, Jack Nation, Colin Farrell, Robert Duvall. Director: Scott Cooper. Screenplay: Scott Cooper. Book: Thomas Cobb. www.foxsearchlight.com/crazyheart/.
Once many of us pass a certain age, we begin to think that the pattern of our life is largely set, if not intractably fixed. That can be great if things are going well, but those who embrace this fatalistic view often do so because their existence has come up short in at least one area of life, if not more. They thus reconcile themselves to an outlook—and a future—based on such unwaveringly glum beliefs. But that sense of resignation need not become permanent, as evidenced by themes explored in the new drama, “Crazy Heart.”
Bad Blake (Jeff Bridges) is a man down on his luck. A one-time well-known country singer/songwriter, Bad now plays one-nighters with pickup bands in small-town bowling alley lounges and piano bars. Besides his career problems, he’s got trouble with money and with maintaining relationships that last longer than overnight. He drowns his sorrows in protracted drinking binges, a habit that’s clearly taking its toll on the 57-year-old’s health. He seems destined for an embittered future, a reality full of bleak times and little hope for tomorrow.
Bad’s fortunes change, however, when he meets aspiring lifestyle reporter Jean Craddock (Maggie Gyllenhaal), who wants to write an article about him. As time passes, the two grow close, and Bad falls for this single mother and her young son, Buddy (Jack Nation). At the same time, Bad starts to see his career prospects rebound, too, thanks to the efforts of his agent, Jack (Paul Herman), and the assistance of his successful former protégé, Tommy Sweet (Colin Farrell). With things looking up, Bad faces a promising future, but the critical question is, “Will he accept it?”
Bad’s circumstances are clearly the making of his own choices, a cornerstone principle of law of attraction/conscious creation philosophy. The decisions he’s made have brought him to where he is, and his beliefs about those choices provide constant reinforcement of his lot in life. But the prospect of change brings him to a pivotal point where he must either choose to stay the course or to follow an entirely new path.
At first glance, one might wonder why Bad would even consider rejecting the windfall of assistance and good fortune being offered to him; however, given his state of mind—and how inflexible his view of life has become—it’s easy for him to dismiss what’s come his way. He drums up all sorts of glib reasons to conveniently justify his existence. But are such flimsy rationalizations the right path to pursue? Only Bad can answer that question, but he must first decide whether he’s getting enough out of his current life to stay locked in place.
The message of this film will no doubt resonate with those who can identify with Bad’s situation. I believe this is particularly true for those who’ve experienced multiple hardships and/or those who’ve reached a certain age, such as Baby Boomers approaching retirement. For some, change might be refreshingly welcome; for others, however, it may seem too late to start over or to strike out in a new direction, but that need not be the case unless one intentionally holds onto beliefs confirming such notions.
I had always been told, for example, that, if you don’t write your first book by the time you’re 35, you never will, and for a while, I had bought into that belief in a big way. But that idea is a belief, nothing more, subject to alteration, just as any such notion is. I reminded myself of that when I published my first book at the supposedly over-the-hill age of 50. It really never is too late for any of us to usher changes into our lives unless we block them by our own convictions.
“Crazy Heart” illustrates this sentiment quite effectively. It’s one of the picture’s greatest strengths, even if this theme (and the movie’s overall story line, for that matter) isn’t especially original (much of the narrative is reminiscent of the 1983 award-winning film “Tender Mercies” with Robert Duvall, who also has a small supporting role in this picture). Its greatest asset, though, is serving as a showcase for Jeff Bridges, both as an actor and as a surprisingly good singer. He’s received much acclaim for his performance, and he’s justifiably considered to be a strong awards season contender, as evidenced by his Golden Globe win for best actor in a dramatic film. The film also features a fine performance by Colin Farrell, again both for his acting and his very capable singing. Thankfully, these elements, along with T Bone Burnett’s excellent award-winning score, shine strongly enough to distract viewers from its greatest weakness, the seriously erroneous miscasting of Maggie Gyllenhaal in the female lead. She comes across more like an overly perky flight attendant than a serious reporter, and her perpetually breathless delivery, which was perfect for her role in “Away We Go” earlier last year, is all wrong here.
For those who’ve seen their fair share of birthdays, it may be easy to think it’s too late to make significant changes in their beliefs or in their lives. But that’s a choice, not a fact. It’s the wise person who has the insight to know the difference—and to proceed accordingly.
Copyright © 2010, by Brent Marchant. All rights reserved.
A lifelong movie fan and longtime student of metaphysics (with an emphasis in law of attraction/conscious creation principles), free-lance writer/editor Brent Marchant is the author of Get the Picture: Conscious Creation Goes to the Movies (Moment Point Press, www.momentpoint.com). His additional writing credits include contributions to www.beliefnet.com and to Divine Revolution, Sethnet Journal and Reality Change magazines. Brent also maintains an ongoing blog about metaphysical cinema at www.getthepicturebrentmarchant.blogspot.com. He holds a B.A. in magazine journalism from Syracuse University and resides in Chicago. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.