Hard-livin' country & western veteran Bad Blake (Jeff Bridges) finds salvation with the help of Jean (Maggie Gyllenhaal), a journalist who discovers the real man behind the musician. Plucking good drama with Bridges, thoroughly deserving a long-overdue Best Actor Oscar for his pitch-perfect performance, receiving great back-up from Gyllenhaal. Real country legend T-Bone Burnett produces and provides the top notch tunes, including the Oscar-winning song 'The Weary Kind'.
Essentially The Wrestler with slide guitars, this solid if slight indie drama is elevated above its middle-of-the-road roots by Bridges' electrifying performance.
Country music legend Bad Blake (Bridges) has just about hit rock bottom when journalist and single mum Jean Craddock (Gyllenhaal) collars him for an interview.
Touring bowling alleys to finance his hard-living ways, the alcoholic singer has long lost the magic that once made him a star but his burgeoning relationship with Jean offers some much-needed stability.
With a string of broken relationships behind him, however, Blake struggles to keep his demons at bay as he attempts to hang on to Jean while revitalising his ailing career.
As predictable and formulaic as a well-worn cover version, Crazy Heart offers few surprises, but there's no faulting the delivery.
First seen outside a bowling alley, there's a definite hint of Bridges' most famous creation in the broken-down singer, but The Big Lebowski's super-slacker is soon forgotten as Blake's dark side comes to the fore.
Utilising his natural charm and affability, Bridges creates a charismatic yet deeply-flawed and sometimes outright unpleasant character who, despite his transgressions, is impossible to give up on.
While a pony-tailed Colin Farrell feels a little over-conspicuous as Blake's former protégé and Duvall underused as an old pal, the superb Gyllenhaal compels with a raw yet dignified performance that complements Bridges' showier role perfectly.
It's a shame then that the all-too-familiar story is never as engaging as the two leads, but with performances this strong, Crazy Heart still brings the house down.