It’s a wonderful feeling when a movie you’ve been waiting for (anxiously) finally arrives into town and meets expectations.  And that is the story for me with Crazy Heart.  I knew it would be the type of intimate drama I admire, but I didn’t know if I would be deeply touched by this one.

Crazy Heart reminds me more than a little of one of my favorite films, Tender Mercies.  (Horton Foote is my favorite screenwriter…if I am forced to name a favorite.)  In that film, Robert Duvall plays Mac Sledge, a washed-up country singer who has to kick the bottle to find a new life before trying to make some amends in the one he drank away.  It is a tender tale.

The storyline for Crazy Heart, and the appearance of Duvall in a supporting role, evoke Tender Mercies, and this film, too, has its share of poignant moments.

This movie belongs to Jeff Bridges, who plays Bad Blake, an alcoholic country singer who has become his own worst enemy, and Maggie Gyllenhaal, who plays Jean Craddock, a single mother and journalist who falls in love with Bad.  Both Bridges and Gyllenhaal are nominated for Oscars.

I love this movie beyond the performances and the music (Ryan Bingham and T-Bone Burnett earned an Oscar nomination for the song “The Weary Kind”).  I guess this film moves me deeply because of the way it addresses two main ideas in the story.

As you get older, you realize that there aren’t as many chances at the important things as you thought there would be.   When you are young, it seems that opportunity (for love or for professional success or whatever is most important to you) is right around the corner if you don’t have it.  And, I suppose “it” does come around more often in youth than later on either because there are more options open to us when we are young or because we are more open at that time to the options we see.

But, it’s Crazy Heart is not just about chances – chances squandered and chances taken – it is also about redemption.

It is never too late for redemption, but as important as that is, being redeemed gives you the moment rather than another chance.  You could say that being redeemed gives you a chance at another chance if it does come along.  While redemption is good for its own sake, you still have to hope another chance comes along and be prepared for it when (if) it does.

What a lovely, sad movie about squandered time and missed chances and making mistakes…and about redemption.  I am neither of these main characters, but I identify with the humanity of both of them.


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