Crazy Heart

Crazy Heart
Crazy Heart

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Scott Cooper
Produced by Robert Duvall
Rob Carliner
Judy Cairo
T-Bone Burnett
Scott Cooper
Jeff Bridges
Michael A. Simpson
Eric Brenner
Leslie Belzberg
Screenplay by Scott Cooper
Based on novel Crazy Heart by
Thomas Cobb
Starring Jeff Bridges
Maggie Gyllenhaal
Colin Farrell
Robert Duvall
Music by Stephen Bruton
T-Bone Burnett
Cinematography Barry Markowitz
Editing by John Axelrad
Studio Informant Media
Butcher's Run Films
Distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures
Release date(s) December 6, 2009 (2009-12-06) (Santa Fe[1])
December 16, 2009 (2009-12-16) (United States[2])
Running time 112 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $7 million[2]
Box office $47,405,566[2]

Crazy Heart is a 2009 American musical-drama film, written and directed by Scott Cooper and based on the 1987 novel[3] of the same name by Thomas Cobb. Jeff Bridges plays a down-and-out country music singer-songwriter who tries to turn his life around after beginning a relationship with a young journalist portrayed by Maggie Gyllenhaal. Other supporting roles are played by Colin Farrell, Robert Duvall, and child actor Jack Nation. Bridges, Farrell, and Duvall also sing in the film.

The film's main character, Bad Blake played by Jeff Bridges, is based on a combination of Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson and Merle Haggard. The writer-director Cooper initially wanted to do a biopic on Haggard but found the rights to his life story were too difficult to obtain. The novel on which the film was based, was actually inspired by country singer Hank Thompson.[4] Bridges earned the 2009 Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in the film.

Filming took place during 2008 in New Mexico (Albuquerque, Española, Galisteo, Santa Fe), in Houston, Texas, and in Los Angeles, California. Original music for the film was composed by T-Bone Burnett, Stephen Bruton, Ryan Bingham and others. Bingham and Burnett received the 2009 Academy Award for Best Original Song for co-writing "The Weary Kind," which Bingham also performed.

The film was produced for $7 million by Country Music Television, and was originally acquired by Paramount Vantage for a direct-to-video release,[5][6] but was later purchased for theatrical distribution by Fox Searchlight Pictures.[7] It opened in limited release in the U.S. on December 16, 2009.[8]



Otis "Bad" Blake (Jeff Bridges) is a 57-year-old alcoholic singer-songwriter who was once a country music star. He now earns a modest living by singing and playing his guitar at one-night stands, in small town bars, in the southwestern United States. Having a history of failed marriages (four that he admitted to, although Jean said five) Blake is without a family. He has a son, aged 28, with whom he has not had contact in 24 years. He is mostly on the road performing, staying in cheap motels and traveling in his old car alone. The film opens with his arrival at a bowling alley for a show.

Enter Jean Craddock (Maggie Gyllenhaal), a young journalist after a story, divorced and with a four-year-old son, Buddy (Jack Nation). She interviews Blake, and the two enter into a relationship. Jean and her son become a catalyst for Blake beginning to get his life back on track. In doing so, he lets himself be pushed into renewing a professional relationship with Tommy Sweet (Colin Farrell), a popular and successful country music star he once mentored, and plays as the opening act at one of Tommy's concerts, despite his initial balking and wounded pride at being the opening act to his former student. He asks Tommy to record an album with him, but Tommy says his record company insists on a couple more solo albums before a duet project can be recorded. He instead suggests that Blake concentrate on writing new songs that Tommy can record solo, telling him he writes better songs than anyone else.

Blake's drinking soon gets out of control, and he ends up running off the road while driving drunk. In the hospital, the doctor informs him that although he only sustained a broken ankle from the crash, he is slowly killing himself, and must stop drinking and smoking and lose 25 pounds if he wants to live more than a few more years. Blake's relationship with Jean makes him start to rethink his life. He calls up his son to make amends, only to have his son tell him that his mother, Bad's ex-wife, has died, and hangs up on him. The relationship starts to look up, with Jean visiting him with her son Buddy. After a situation where Blake loses Buddy briefly at a shopping mall while drinking at a bar, Jean breaks up with him.

After losing Jean and her son, who were becoming his only family, Blake resolves to quit drinking. After going through a treatment program at a rehab center, and with support from his Alcoholics Anonymous group and his old friend Wayne (Robert Duvall), Blake finally manages to get sober. Having cleaned up his act, he tries to reunite with Jean, but she tells him that the best thing he can do for her and Buddy is to leave them alone. After losing Jean, Blake finishes writing a song that he thinks is his best ever, "The Weary Kind", and sells it to Tommy.

Sixteen months later, Tommy plays "The Weary Kind" to an appreciative audience while Blake watches backstage, as his manager presents him with another of the large royalty checks for the song. As Blake is leaving, Jean approaches him, saying she has come to the show as writer for a large music publication. As they catch up, Blake sees an engagement ring on Jean's finger and tells her that she deserves a good man. He offers her the money from that royalty check for Buddy to have for his 18th birthday, which Jean initially refuses but eventually accepts after Blake says the song wouldn't exist without them. Jean asks if Blake would like to see Buddy again, but Blake declines saying it might be too unsettling for the young boy. The film ends with them walking away from the concert and chatting to each other.


Development of original novel

The New York Times said the novel, written by Thomas Cobb, "also functions as a shrewd and funny running critique of contemporary country music."[9] Cobb based the character "Bad" Blake on country music entertainer Hank Thompson, Ramblin' Jack Elliott and Cobb's doctoral advisor in graduate school, Donald Barthelme;[10] Cobb studied with Barthelme in a creative writing class in the University of Houston in the 1980s. When Cobb struggled between using an "upbeat" ending and a "downbeat" ending, Barthelme suggested that Cobb use the "downbeat" ending.[9] The nickname "Bad" came from a sentence that popped into Cobb's mind, "Bad's got the sweats again." "Blake" came from William Blake, and a friend from graduate school, and some people Cobb knew in Tucson, Arizona.[11] The book, which was out of print since its original publication, went into print again when the film was released.[9]

Development of the film

The process of creating a film adaptation took many years because the concept was optioned, but was never produced into an actual adaptation until director Scott Cooper produced the film.[11] Cobb assumed that the film would use a more upbeat ending, because the Hollywood film industry often prefers "things that are generally positive."[9] According to Cobb, he had nothing to do with the making of the film.[10] The shooting of a sequence depicting the original book ending occurred; Cooper wanted to use it as the ending, but he did not get final authority to do so. A sequence of Bad Blake visiting his son in Los Angeles was also cut from the final film.[11]


Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 91% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 194 reviews, with an average score of 7.4/10.[12]

Critics mainly praised the performance of Jeff Bridges as Bad Blake, with many claiming he elevated the film above its seemingly conventional story and languid pace. Tom Long from Detroit News writes, "It's a bit too easy, a bit too familiar, and maybe even a bit too much fun. But the easy magic Bridges brings to the screen makes it all work."[13] The Toronto Star 's Linda Barnard attests that "some goodwill evaporates in the final reel, when a few false endings lead to a choice that's not the best one for Crazy Heart, but the generosity of Bridges' performance puts us in a forgiving mood."[14]

Jeff Bridges' performance earned him his first Academy Award for Best Actor, as well as Best Actor prizes from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, Broadcast Film Critics Association, Golden Globe Awards, Screen Actors Guild and the Independent Spirit Awards. Bridges also received nominations from the Chicago Film Critics Association, London Critics Circle, Online Film Critics Society and the Satellite Awards. Gyllenhaal was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance. The song The Weary Kind earned Ryan Bingham and T-Bone Burnett the 2009 Academy Award for Best Original Song[15] and a Golden Globe.[16]


The album entitled Crazy Heart: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack was released in 2009 to accompany the film. The 23-track album contains many songs written by Burnett, Bruton, and Bingham, but also some by John Goodwin, Bob Neuwirth, Sam Hopkins, Gary Nicholson, Townes Van Zandt, Sam Philips, Greg Brown, Billy Joe Shaver, and Eddy Shaver

The songs are performed by various artists including actors Bridges, Farrell, and Duvall, as well as singers Bingham (who sings the theme song The Weary Kind and plays Tony in the film), Buck Owens, The Louvin Brothers, Lightnin' Hopkins, Waylon Jennings, Townes Van Zandt, and Sam Philips.

At the 82nd Grammy Awards, the theme song "The Weary Kind" by Ryan Bingham won for Best Song Written For Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media and the soundtrack also won for Best Compilation Soundtrack Album For Motion Picture, Television Or Other Visual Media.

Home media

The film was released on April 20, 2010, on DVD and Blu-Ray. The Single-Disc DVD's special features included six deleted scenes, while the Blu-Ray 2-disc set contained eight deleted scenes (including one in which Bad reunites with his son), plus two alternative music cuts and a short documentary in which the stars discuss What Brought Them to Crazy Heart .[17]


  1. ^ "Release dates for Crazy Heart (2009)". The Internet Movie Database., Inc. Retrieved 2010-07-10. 
  2. ^ a b c "Crazy Heart". Box Office Mojo., Inc. Retrieved 2010-04-29. 
  3. ^ Cobb, Thomas (1987). Crazy Heart. San Francisco: Harper & Row. ISBN 0-06-015803-4. 
  4. ^ Lewis, Randy (2009-12-28). "Hank Thompson: 'Crazy Heart's' real-life Bad Blake". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-07-06. 
  5. ^ Cieply, Michael (2009-11-18). "A Surprise Gets Buzz for Oscars". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). Retrieved 2010-01-26. 
  6. ^ Honeycutt, Kirk (2009-11-29). "Crazy Heart -- Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2010-02-27. [dead link]
  7. ^ "Fox Searchlight Pictures Acquires 'Crazy Heart'". Retrieved 2009-07-21. 
  8. ^ "Oscar Watch: 'Crazy Hearts Bridges Joins Actors Fray". Anne Thompson/ Retrieved 2009-11-04. 
  9. ^ a b c d "The Reading Life: Jeff Bridges and ‘Crazy Heart’: Channeling Donald Barthelme?" The New York Times. January 29, 2010. Retrieved on July 31, 2010.
  10. ^ a b Rourke, Bryan (2009-11-22). "Foster author’s ‘Crazy Heart’ gets reprint now that movie is on the way". (The Providence Journal Co). Retrieved 2010-09-22. 
  11. ^ a b c Hoinski, Michael. "Q&A: Crazy Heart Author Thomas Cobb on His Character Bad Blake, Deer Tick, and Why Chet Atkins Killed Country." The Village Voice. Thursday March 4, 2010. Retrieved on July 31, 2010.
  12. ^ "Crazy Heart (2009)". Rotten Tomatoes. IGN Entertainment, Inc. Retrieved 2010-01-17. 
  13. ^ "Review: Jeff Bridges and memorable music elevate 'Crazy Heart'". Detroit News. Retrieved January 15, 2009. 
  14. ^ Barnard, Linda. "Crazy Heart: Hurts so good". Toronto Star. Retrieved January 15, 2009. 
  15. ^ "Oscar nominations announced". 2010. Retrieved February 2, 2010. 
  16. ^ "Nominations and Winners 2009". Official Website of the Annual Golden Globe Awards. Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Retrieved 2010-02-14. 
  17. ^ "Buy now." by Thomas Dodson, Fox Searchlite movie Web site, March 29th, 2010. Retrieved 2010-04-20.

External links

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