A fine film -- but the "best scene" didn't make the final cu
Mark Blackburn | Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada | 10/08/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Have you watched the "extra features" yet on the BLU-RAY edition of "CRAZY HEART"? I did so last night with a rental copy ("89 cents, Thursdays only") -- from my neighborhood mom & pop grocery store [which may yet outlive a nearby Blockbuster that wants six Canadian dollars for similar rental.]
As an aside, may I say I'm one of those odd folks who watch ALL the closing credits of movies -- the last guy left in the theatre, watching the credit roll to the bitter end (usually to find out "who wrote that song?") Glad I watched all the "deleted scenes" from this one as they included one that would have been my `favorite scene' (in an otherwise solid, '4-star' film).
I'm thinking too that, from the perspective of any male who ever fathered a child `out of wedlock' -- and didn't get to meet his child for a couple of decades -- the most powerful scene (I believe) was left on the proverbial `cutting-room floor.'
The segment that runs at least seven minutes, opening with the 28-year-old son, whom "Bad" has never met, or even communicated with, returning his call to say, reluctantly, "and only because my wife says I should," that he's agreed to meet with his dad after all. (We don't get to see him in the film.) "I'll be on the next plane," says his gratified father.
Immediately, we see a cab drive up a long gravel driveway to a farm house, where the young man greets his father with distant politeness, and introduces him to his pretty wife. And though she has only a couple of spoken lines, the superb actress (not named, obviously in the closing credits) conveys the most endearing blend of patience and anxious hope -- trying to will this meeting, which she has arranged, into a genuine, heart-to-heart reconciliation: It is not to be.
When things begin to turn sour, she diplomatically exits to the next room, telling "Bad" -- "You could use another beer." The camera intercuts to her face (only twice) as she listens-in on a conversation going all wrong. Her lovely face is SO expressive -- conveying perfectly her misplaced hope for a reconciliation between father and son - a hope crushed within minutes of "Bad's" arrival.
After some cynical parrying -- with Bad's meagre attempts at conversation ("I saved this money clip for you and always meant to give it to you") his son says, in a flat-toned voice that drips contempt,
"You know, since you got here, you haven't asked a single thing about US -- my wife and me," [and that] "you must be the most self-absorbed S.O.B. on the face of this earth."
`Bad' says, "Call me a cab," and gets up to leave; unable to look his son in the eye, he declares in obvious self-pity, "Well, at least I TRIED." And the viewer realizes that self-pity is the ONLY emotion left to this self-absorbed, alcoholic, `has-been.'
It's a scene so poignant (and so real) it reduced this viewer to tears. How can it be left out? Usually scenes are cut if they don't actually advance the plot: But THIS scene (you may agree) is a mini-masterpiece, fleshing out an aspect of "Bad's" character - to make him even more 'three-dimensional.' And since no other reviewer has mentioned it, I thought it was worth pointing out this one "deleted scene." (See if it doesn't speak to your heart!)
Thanks to the screen writer (or the book's author) for composing this `note-perfect' slice of life; thanks as well to the film's director (or producers) for making sure it was included in those 'extra features.'
Winnipeg Manitoba Canada
Falling feels like flying
B. Martin | 09/20/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Jeff Bridges gives the perfromance of his career (ranking slightly above his legendary comedic role in The Big Lebowski) as Bad Blake, a washed up country star who finds redemption with the help of a young single mother (Maggie Gyllenhaal) and her four year old son. It's a simple story that we've heard before, but it works thanks to the excellent performaces by both Bridges and Gyllenhaal, who make their characters feel painfully real in terms of the choices they make and the baggage they carry.
Bad Blake is a former country legend who has lost a great deal in his life due to his alcoholism and now finds himself playing gigs at bowling alleys and bars just to make ends meet. All the while he seems to blame others for his own downfall, particularly a young star who started out as a backing member in his former band (Colin Farrell) who he believes shoved him out of the limelight after studying at his feet for years. We quickly learn that Blake's perception of things don't necessarily line up with reality. As the movie progresses it becomes painfully clear that Blake is in the position he is because of his own stubborness and refusal to make changes in his life.
The catalyst for those changes comes when he meets a young reporter (Gyllenhaal) and her son and falls for her. The path that their relationship takes is inevitiable, but necessary since it eventually forces Blake to straighten his life out lest he suffer more losses at his own hands. Again, this is a familiar story but it works since the movie is very low-key and melodrama free. Things move at such a leisurely pace, in fact, that it's a shock when the movie delivers an emotional wallop at the end.
Of course, a lot of the credit must go to Bridges. He fully inhabits this character, making Blake a deeply flawed human being who we can't help but root for, even though he has destroyed his life largely by his own actions. Couple that with some incredible music (which Bridges sings and plays quite impressively) and you have a tough little movie about life, love, loss and the ability to fight through it all and emerge the stronger for it."