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21 February 2010

Crazy in Love

I had been waiting to see The Lovely Bones for a long time. I really enjoyed Alice Sebold's book when I read it a number of years ago and was interested to see what Peter Jackson would make of it. However, it has not had very good reviews and while I don't usually care about bad reviews, on this occasion, I am worried that I'll end up seriously disliking it. Now that it has finally been released, I decided to give it a miss this weekend, although I am pleased that one of my Flickr photos was added to a promotional website for the film, which has composite posters made up of assorted Flickr photos, mainly of cloudy and/or ethereal landscapes. Now I just need to find it...

Instead of The Lovely Bones, I went to see Crazy Heart, in which Jeff Bridges stars as a talented country singer/songwriter who is fighting a number of demons, including loneliness, regret and alcoholism. As Bridges has received a Best Actor Oscar nomination for the role, I thought I ought to check him out. In any case, I've liked him since I saw him in The Last Picture Show, which remains one of my all-time favourite films.

And Bridges is very good as aging singer Bad Blake. He drinks too much, he married too many women for too brief periods of time and he doesn't take care of himself. He stumbles and mumbles through the days, playing gigs that are a lot smaller than those he used to play and envying a younger country star, Tommy Sweet (played by the ever-swarthy Colin Farrell), whom he once mentored. He isn't very thoughtful and he disappears in the middle of his gigs to go and vomit. In short, he is in a bad place, although he still has a number of very enthusiastic fans.

Along comes Maggie Gyllenhaal as a Santa Fe reporter called Jean. She is about thirty years his junior and wary of the effect having him around will have on her four-year-old son but nonetheless, they embark on a romance and he Bad tries to clean up his act. The son, in desperate need of a father figure, adores him but it isn't that simple. "I knew what the risks were with you," says Jean, "and I took them because I love you." When dealing with washed-up, alcoholic country stars, this is not always enough.

I suspect Bridges probably will win the Oscar but my vote would go to Colin Firth for A Single Man. Bridges was great as Bad Blake but Firth as George is subtly, heart-breakingly excellent. Firth's role will probably be considered too understated by the Oscars Powers That Be, although that, of course, is precisely the point.

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