Crazy Heart

Rated 4.0

If director Scott Cooper’s film has a shortcoming, it is that it is uncomfortably derivative of the Bruce Beresford-Horton Foote Tender Mercies (1983), the movie that finally won a long-deferred Oscar for Robert Duvall. (It’s surely no coincidence that Duvall himself served here as a producer, and plays another cameo as Bad’s bartender pal.) But where Tender Mercies was elegiac, Crazy Heart is funereal; the earlier film was about redemption through love, while this one is about redemption after a love lost, that one-too-many morning that really does lead to turning over a new leaf. It’s a tricky balancing act. We have to see Bad Blake (Jeff Bridges) scraping bottom, yet believe that the top of the hole is still within his reach.