"Crazy Heart" Blu-ray Review
April 26, 2010 by Zach Demeter
Garnering top honors at both the 2010 Academy Awards® and Golden Globe® Awards for Best Actor and Best Original Song (“The Weary Kind”), Crazy Heart is the powerful story of a country music star’s rocky road to redemption, arriving on Blu-ray Disc and DVD April 20 from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. Bridges stars as Bad Blake, a boozy, broken-down singer who reaches for salvation with the help of Jean, a journalist who discovers the real man behind the music. But will Bad’s hard-livin’ ways and crazy heart cost him his last chance at a comeback?
Fueled by country rock, Crazy Heart features award winning music from composer and producer T-Bone Burnett (Walk The Line), the late Texas songwriter Stephen Bruton, and southern singer/songwriter Ryan Bingham. Crazy Heart also features a stellar supporting cast including an Academy Award® nominated performance from Maggie Gyllenhaal (Dark Knight) and Academy Award® winner* Robert Duvall, who also served as a production partner on the film. A raw and realistic story adapted from the highly praised novel by Thomas Cobb, the film is a portrait of a man who has lived hard, fast and recklessly, but still goes after the salvation of love when his heart gets what appears to be one last chance to redeem itself.
Shot in under a month and for under ten million, the quickly produced and small budget Crazy Heart became a sure-win vehicle for Jeff Bridges. Sure enough, toward the end of the Oscar broadcast, Bridges took home his first statue for his role as Bad Blake and everything felt right with the world. In another surprising twist, the Fox Searchlight film went on to gross nearly $45 million worldwide, making back over six times over the cost to make it.
So without a doubt this is a successful film, both in terms of financial success as well as critical success for all involved. For such a simple film it garnered near perfect praise from the critics (it currently sits at a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes), nearly all of which hone in on the performances as the key reason for as the main factor that the film gives to the viewer. It’s certainly a strong film in that regard to be sure, but as much as I too was endeared by the performances I found the overall structure of the story to be rather weak and empty.
After the critical success of The Wrestler, it’s no wonder Fox Searchlight looked for a similar vehicle—and they got it with Crazy Heart. While the professions of the leads are different, the same idea of a washed-up celebrity falling back on a vice and trying to reconcile his differences and get clean are all too similar. I didn’t particularly mind; in some ways Crazy Heart was a much less depressing tale than Wrestler merely because it has a slightly happier ending than it. Both films are really superb studies of the choices people must make in life, but I would definitely say that Crazy Heart was a great deal more accessible by the average audience than the grittier Wrestler.
It also didn’t hurt that Crazy Heart had a pretty good soundtrack. I really don’t enjoy country music in the least, but the type played in here is more akin to the old style of country rock than what we get nowadays, which really just annoys me more than anything (luckily what little of that is reserved to Colin Farrell’s character, of which we see and hear little…although his performance is quite amazing. I’m not sure that there isn’t an accent or role that man can’t pull off.), so the older style was much more pleasing to my ears. It’s definitely a great collection of songs to listen to and one of the more pleasing elements of the film.
Really just about the only thing I didn’t like about the film was just how…easy it all was. There really wasn’t much of a plot to pull from; it was incredibly straightforward and never deviated from the formula. It even threw in an estranged child that Bridge’s character hadn’t talked to for nearly two decades, but that’s limited to a single voice on the phone and it’s never pushed any further than that. Then there’s the whole “detox” sequence which is quite literally a brief thirty seconds long; it’s all very neat and tidy, with very little dwelling on the nastier elements of alcohol addiction.
Still as simple and straightforward as it is, Crazy Heart is still really quite a great film to check out. The performances are simply terrific (as can be expected from an Oscar winner) and the music is quite good as well. Plus there are a scattered few references to The Big Lebowski, so that’s always a good thing.
Fox releases Crazy Heart on Blu-ray in a standard two-disc Elite Blu-ray case. The second disc is only a digital copy, so don’t get too excited; although my review copy did come with a set of guitar picks, which I guess is cool…although I don’t play guitar so that’s kind of pointless for me then. Still, the packaging is nicely done, as are the menus and the navigation of them.
Video is an AVC encoded effort with really exceptional clarity. It should come as no surprise from a modern film, but after having watched the film on a rather disappointing test disc DVD copy the first time, the second time around on Blu-ray was a much more pleasing experience. Detail is high and although the film takes frequent visits to dark bars or dimly lit rooms, it’s still always easy to make out and feast your eyes on an array of intricacies in the rooms. It’s not an absolutely perfect transfer as some of those darker sequences do have a few unpleasant attributes at times (though that may have more to do with the lighting than the transfer), but overall it’s a very good transfer from Fox (not that that’s too surprising).
Audio is a DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix and although it is a largely dialogue driven film, there are elements that cause the 5.1 to make itself known. Obviously the soundtrack to the film sounds terrific from any angle in the room, with a nice, deep bass to all of the notes; the stadium sequences are especially great sounding. The only other elements where the surrounds kick in is the accident sequence…but crushing metal tends to call for a lot of thrashing in the speakers and LFE.
Extras include an array of Deleted Scenes that are presented in standard definition and run almost eleven minutes in length; as with most deleted scenes there isn’t a lot of value to be found in them, but there is one that deals with Bad actually meeting up with his estranged son…an odd thing not to include in the film since they built it up like it was something that would eventually happen. The only other extra here, and exclusive to the Blu-ray release, is a Jeff Bridges, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Robert Duvall on What Brought Them to Crazy Heart featurette; before you get too excited, however, it’s a scant three minutes long. It is in 1080i at least though.
There are some trailers here as well but overall this is a pretty barebones release. Still Recommended however, as it’s kind of a heart warming tale to experience again and again should be so inclined.
Crazy Heart is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.