Strong, impeccably acted Southern drama about a broken, alcoholic country star and his relationship with a young reporter. Jeff Bridges earned his Oscar playing the lead, Bad Blake, as he drinks, smokes, and mumbles his way through his ramshackle life in search of something worthwhile, which he finds in Maggie Gyllenhaal’s sweet young single mom. Their involvement, while bordering on unbelievable, plays organically and without much contrivance, and the film, like The Wrestler, understands that when people are broken, many restrictions one would set on their potential romantic entanglements would become moot (this point could’ve been more clear if the character was older, but she’s a good enough actress to pull it off). Colin Farrell, Robert Duvall, and Paul Herman, as friends/coworkers of Blake, turn in wonderful work, and their chemistry with Bridges creates a portrait of Blake’s life that extends before and after the chronology of the film (with more screen time, I believe Farrell’s work in the film could have been as seminal for his career as Bridges’). The narrative is relatively traditional, with surprising touches, but nothing groundbreaking. The film functions more efficiently as a character piece, and in that sense, it is a great success; because of Bridges’ effortless likability, we can watch Blake fuck up time and time again and still root for him to persevere. The music that is both played and heard in the film is pretty sweet, especially for country music (of which I am not a fan).
Highly Recommended for Jeff Bridges fans or country music buffs. I don’t think this is a better Bridges performance than The Dude, but it is still a fairly masterful portrayal.