Crazy Heart (Blu-ray)
Directed by Scott Cooper
Studio: Twentieth Century-Fox
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 1080p AVC codec
Running Time: 111 minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English
Subtitles: SDH, Spanish, French
MSRP: $ 39.99
Release Date: April 20, 2010
Review Date: April 20, 2010
The story of a nearly washed up country singer given a second chance at happiness with a ready made family, Bruce Broughton’s Tender Mercies is a . . . wait! This is a review about Scott Cooper’s Crazy Heart, but truth to tell, the bare bones of the stories are pretty much the same. Sure, the actors in both movies won Oscars as the best actor of their successive years, and both films are low key rather than hard pushing country music/show biz sagas (compared to something like Coal Miner’s Daughter, for example). Crazy Heart is a small film about second chances which, as chances often end up, are not always winners. It’s a solid domestic drama with some country music around the edges and an agreeable film if not a showstopping one.
Hard living country singer Bad Blake (Jeff Bridges) has been on the road for nearly three decades leaving behind four failed marriages, a son he’s not seen since infancy, and developing serious cases of alcoholism and emphysema from his constant drinking and chain smoking. One time at the top of the charts, Bad’s current career consists of one night stands at bowling alleys and small honkytonks in the Southwest. In Santa Fe, he’s introduced to single mom Jean Craddock (Maggie Gyllenhaal) whose four year old son (the same age as Bad’s son when he last saw him decades earlier) takes an instant shine to the good ol’ boy. Bad wants a new start, and he believes Jean can give it to him. His one-time backup player and now country star Tommy Sweet (Colin Farrell) offers Bad some lucrative touring offers and huge amounts of money for some new songs, but Bad’s own life requires some tending to before he can make a serious start toward a second chance at stardom.
Though there’s certainly nothing new here from writer-director Scott Cooper in terms of story or handling (the script is based on a novel by Thomas Cobb), the film’s very familiarity may bring it the same kinds of fans that love the repeated heartache and heartbreak of a million country tunes down through the years. Cooper certainly captures the atmosphere of small potatoes show business on a local level, and the contrast to the big budget arena show being put on by superstar Tommy Sweet is beautifully realized. And some viewers may be surprised that the film doesn’t go quite where they might expect it would (though those who saw The Wrestler will find some parallels) though even the surprises are done softly and without bombast. There are lots of song performance sequences in the picture though only a couple are shown from beginning to end, the director tending to focus much of his time on reactions to the singing or the singers’ conditions during their numbers, interesting but not earth-shaking in effect. It’s a movie of small emotional range that generates respectful if not astonishing reaction.
Both Jeff Bridges and Colin Farrell do their own singing, and when they do a surprise duet with “Fallin’ and Flyin’,” it’s unquestionably the best moment in the movie. Their voices harmonize beautifully (who knew either could sing this well?), and their performances as a wily veteran and a loving and respectful protégé really take wing at that moment. (More scenes with Farrell might have been wise since he’s a shot in the arm to Bridges’ character whenever he’s either physically present or mentioned.) Elsewhere, Jeff Bridges brings a lifetime of experience and expertise to the role, completely believable as a drunk on his last legs and as a man eager to make amends for the wasted parts of his life. Maggie Gyllenhaal has an accent that seems to come and go freely, but otherwise she’s a breath of fresh air to the proceedings as the twinkly working mom who’s excited but wary of this new love in her life. Robert Duvall pops in for a few fairly effective scenes as Bad’s old friend, a club owner who is always there to pick up the pieces of Bad’s shattered career and personal life.
The film’s theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 is faithfully delivered in a 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. Color and sharpness are both very well presented with accurate flesh tones that convey an array of hues from milky white to very tan. Black levels are well rendered here with contrast levels nicely set to make shadow detail fairly impressive. The film has been divided into 28 chapters.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix is a very low key affair with most of the sound design frontcentric and only with the occasional bleed into the rears of some of the music performances featured in the movie. Apart from some bass in a few songs, the LFE channel is very quiet, not surprising in a movie as restrained as much of this film is.
There are eight deleted scenes and two alternate cuts of musical numbers. They may be viewed together in one 28 ¼-minute grouping or can be viewed separately. (One very interesting cut is Bad’s visit with his 28-year old son which helps bring that curtailed storyline to a definite conclusion). These scenes are presented in 480i.
A brief video interview with stars Jeff Bridges, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Robert Duvall finds each actor giving his reasons for being attracted to the material. It only runs 3 minutes and is in 1080i.
The film’s theatrical trailer runs 2 minutes in 1080p.
There are also preview trailers in 1080p for Amelia, Adam, and Whip It.
Included in the set is a digital copy of the movie with enclosed instructions for installation on Mac and PC devices.
3.5/5 (not an average)
Crazy Heart tells a pretty familiar story, but it tells it well without adornment and features some very satisfying performances from Jeff Bridges, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Colin Farrell. The Blu-ray is a well above average home video presentation certainly worth a rental.