Crazy Heart (2009) 
Blu-ray Drama
Written by Noah Fleming   
Wednesday, 21 April 2010

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"Crazy Heart" is one of those films that is wildly successfully despite its independent status.  It is rare for a film's story, performances and emotional draw to come together in one solid package.  And, at the very least, this film bests the actual Best Picture winner for the year, "The Hurt Locker" by leaps and bounds.

Sure, the story of "Crazy Heart" is not entirely original, but this fact is quickly and easily overlooked due to the fantastic screenwriting and performances.  Jeff Bridges stars as Bad Blake, a down and out country star singer way past his prime.  His protégé, Tommy (Colin Farrell) has taken over the spotlight and is considered by Bad to have sold out.

Bad is a typical washed out drunk that is now touring the country, performing at bowling alleys and small clubs.  He is resentful of this fact and is searching at all costs for a comeback.  Attempts at a album with Tommy have failed, increasing his resentment.

Along his bowling alley journeys Bad meets a young journalist, Jean (Maggie Gyllenhaal).  It doesn't take a genius to see that a doomed, budding romance is developing between the two.  Bad continues on his walk of life while the audience waits for that moment which will change his path and concluding the film.

As I have said, the film is not original, but what makes it unique is the way in which the story is told and the performances that tell it.  Maggie does a tremendous job, which seems to get overlooked because her role is generic.  However, she transforms her character into a real person and makes the audience forget that they are watching a fictitious character.  She was completely robbed of the Best Supporting Actress win.

Jeff Bridges takes drunkenness to a new level.  At the same time he does not become a tiresome to watch drunk for the audience.

One of the most impressive aspects of the film is the vocal talent of the lead actors.  Bridges and Farrell both deliver solid musical performances that make you wish that they were longer.  As it stands they are a bit few and far between.  Most of the music in the film occurs as Blake is drunk and mumbling to himself as he tries to work out a song.  The Oscar-winning original song, "Weary Kind" is only briefly performed at the end of the film and then over the credits.

The film ends the only way that is could, but it does leave a little to be desired.  The ending unfolds a bit too fast considering the slower pace of the film.

"Crazy Heart" comes to Blu-ray with a solid video transfer but nothing to get too excited about.  The image is not full of razor sharp detail and looks much like its independent status.  The colors are generally bold but are complemented by a so-so contrast level.  The black levels are decent but fail to provide the ultimate depth.  Depth is missing in a large majority of the scenes.  Dark sequences such as those in the small clubs lack details in the shadows.  Delineation is spotty and could be much improved upon.  The video quality is hampered by random appearances of softness.  Wide angle shots suffer the most from soft images.  Close ups usually result in strong details and textures.  The strands and Blake's beard are excellently defined and are realistic.  As the video transfer stands, "Crazy Heart" is more than adequate for viewers, but could certainly be improved upon.

The lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio track is a bit more disappointing than the video quality.  I suppose with the hype of the film in terms of the music, I expected the audio track to be far more engaging.  T Bone Burnett's music is solid but far from immersive.  The music was most certainly not recorded in 5.1.  The rear channels of the audio track are practically empty for the duration of the film.  There are a couple acoustic musical performances that have nice depth due to reverb and processing.  However, aside from that the rear channels contain nothing but bleed.  The LFE channel is absent throughout.  Full range front channel speakers would be just fine to handle the material.  Dialogue is generally clear, but is mixed a bit lower than it should have been.  There are times in which the southern drawl and drunk mumblings become difficult to comprehend.  Spatialization is excellent in the front channels.  Dynamics are restrained.  I expected more umph to the music, but the clarity of the recordings is crystal and will probably please most listeners.

There isn't much in the way of bonus materials on this Blu-ray disc.  There is a typical project oriented featurette in which the Bridges, Gyllenhaal and Duvall speak about attraction to the project.  And aside from a trailer the only other bonus feature is a collection of about 10 deleted scenes and extended/alternate music cuts.  The package also comes with a second disc which functions as a Digital Copy of the film.

"Crazy Heart" is a must own for country and music fans.  However, it is not annoyingly country and therefore highly recommended for all movie watchers.  While the video and audio qualities could have been better, they are passable.
Studio 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
MPAA Rating R
Starring Jeff Bridges, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Colin Farrell, Robert Duvall, James Keane
Director Scott Cooper
Film Release Year 2009
Release Year 2010
Resolution(s) 1080p (main feature) • 480i (supplements)
Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
Running Time 1 hr. 51 mins.
Sound Formats English DTS-HD Master 5.1
Subtitles English SDH • French • Spanish
Special Features "Jeff Bridges, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Robert Duvall on What Brought Them to 'Crazy Heart'"; Deleted Scenes/Alternate Music Cuts; Trailer; Digital Copy
Forum Link
Reviewer Noah Fleming

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