The whole “love redeems even the most negative bastard” theme can become kind of boring. Whether it’s friendship with a kid (see “Finding Forrester”) or the love of a good woman (see “Lost in Translation”), the template is pretty simple: A good but now-dissolute/cynical man has pushed away the world. The appearance of a child/woman/animal (see “Turner & Hooch”) draws the man’s inner goodness through his protective shell, allowing him to emotionally open up to the joys of life.
This is the basic template for “Crazy Heart.” Fortunately, it manages to dodge most of the usual sentimentality, making it more worthwhile than most.
Bad Blake (Jeff Bridges, “The Men Who Stare at Goats”) is our old, leathery emotional prisoner. Bad (it’s his stage name because he was “born bad,” get it?) is an aging country musician whose star rose and set years ago. He currently makes a living driving around in a rusty old Suburban, playing bowling alleys and juke joints.
Bad was once a songwriter of note, but the hits have dried up. He still makes royalties off his prot