Monday, 8 February 2010

Preview: Crazy Heart and Lovely Bones

Crazy Heart Why Bridges will win...

Some actors creep their way into our affections without one of those big bang moments. And without sex scandals or exploding helicopter movies. Jeff Bridges is the epitome of that. Quietly he's been working his way into one of our favourite clip-reels; a Tron here, a Fisher King there and of course: as The Dude in The Big Lebowski. Let's get the boring part out of the way. He will win an Oscar on March 7th for Crazy Heart because it is his turn and, as Bad Blake, the washed up country and western singer he dominates the picture with effortless style. It's a single malt of a performance, as a character well familiar with liquor of many hue. We find Bob, as a faded star who was once a successful recording artist now playing bowling alleys, obliterating his talent with groupies and stumbling over his lyrics. When a friend sends over their niece Jean(Maggie Gyllenhaal) to interview him about the old days, she asks him where all the songs come from? "Life. Unfortunately." And with that melancholic answer, against her better judgement, the single mum starts a love affair with the old soak-and he gets a shot at redeeming himself. Bridges and Gyllenhaal dovetail beautifully, portraying a relationship that is more realistic than sentimental. She more than her holds her own, in a lovely performance as a women with compassion but no illusions. With sterling support too from the likes of Bobby Duvall and Colin Farrell, Crazy Heart is a treat for country music fans and straight up 'ole good acting.

Director Peter Jackson has always explored the flighty world of fantasy with intervals of darkness. It doesn't get much darker than Alice Sebold's story of a murdered 14 year old Pennslyvania girl Susie Salmon, who narrates and looks over her devastated family from a Gilliamesque afterlife; trying to solve her murder and find her peace. Jackson's depiction of the suburban family in shock is efficient and Susie's parents are well played by Rachel Weitz and Mark Wahlberg. Stanley Tucci is almost unrecognisable in a role that horrifies because of the mundane nature of his character. As I found with The Road - another adaptation of a book I hadn't read - you could sense how the story would benefit from the internal monologue of a novel but taken as a film, there is nothing inspired about it. I was left underwhelmed, the afterlife scenes are not much more than cliches in CGI and ultimately, while handsomely made, it doesn't grip like a best-seller should.

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