R. It's for drug and alcohol abuse, coupled with some pretty regular sexuality and language throughout the movie. Also, I hope you have a healthy relationship with seeing vomit because he pukes a lot in this movie. It's one of those portraits of fading stardom that gets pretty bleak and depressing, so all of that kind of secures it the R rating.
DIRECTOR: Scott Cooper
Is it weird that I own this movie? It's pretty weird. It was part of my Fox Searchlight box set. I remember watching this movie back in 2009 with my soon-to-be wife and thinking, "That's fine." There isn't anything wrong with this movie. I mean, it's not going to sound like that the more I write about it, but it's fine. Everything I have is more of a commentary on the saturation of the same formulas and tropes until the point where we hit everything being "just fine." Okay, that all sounds pretty damning. I'll say that director Scott Cooper did a fine job with this story that almost ultimately didn't need to be told.
The current bug I have is the music biopic. (That bug is somewhere where he shouldn't be because his location causes me great discomfort.0 I know that Crazy Heart isn't a biopic and that Bad Blake isn't a real musician. Thank you, world. I am also aware of how fiction works. But Bad Blake as a fictional character isn't that interesting because we've seen Crazy Heart a dozen times with the music biopic. I've complained about Bohemian Rhapsody and Walk the Line. We get the formula. It's why I liked Rocketman so much, just because it was slightly different than the rest of the pack. But there seems to be this story that needs to be told. Heck, I can't even blame nonfiction. Crazy Heart is really just another A Star is Born. And that movie was remade, like, four times! As a culture, we're so obsessed with the concept of the aging artist, particularly the music artist, self-destructing given free reign to do anything. Like, I would love a movie about a musician who finds fame and is completely responsible with it. That movie doesn't exist. Instead, Crazy Heart comes out and acts borderline in the same fashion as the rest.
We've seen the portrait of a man burying his alcoholism until it completely shatters the remains of his life. As much as I applaud Jeff Bridges for his performance, which is great, a million actors have had to do the same thing. Heck, it almost feels like it is on the nose to have Lebowski play an alcoholic. This is me being cocky as heck, but I feel like functional alcoholism might, at this point, be the easiest thing to play. (I just remembered Judy. Give my brain five minutes of a silence coupled with a lot of caffeine and I can probably throw five more movies out there with the same performance going on.) And this is where the problem happens. When I keep seeing the same characterization of debilitating alcoholism in my protagonist, I become jaded. I'm sure that there was a time of my life where I would have been moved to tears by the characterization of Bad Blake in this film. It's a tragic tale that affects a lot of people. But like I did with horror movies, I've become desensitized.
That's a problem. Getting desensitized to a horror movie is pretty bad. After all, I shouldn't be comfortable with seeing people getting ripped apart. But alcoholism is a real thing that I've interacted with. I know it is a problem for people. A movie that shows the human condition should have me relate to the human condition. But because we have this same story over-and-over-and-over, how can I get that effect of anything new? I mean, I'm just touching on music movies. I'm not even venturing out into other subgenres like movies like The Wrestler. These performances are just the same things over again. We get three quarters of the movie of toxic behavior and then the film decides whether or not to provide a redemption arc or not. With Crazy Heart we get it. The arc is pretty simple. There are a few odd Chekhov's guns that aren't fired, like Robert Duvall saying that Bad is probably going to fall off the wagon, despite the fact that it doesn't look like he does. But that's the difference.
So instead we're left with what makes Crazy Heart different from Judy, The Wrestler, Bohemian Rhapsody, Rocketman, Walk the Line, and others. (I have only started sipping my tea and I don't have the time or wherewithal to make a list.) I suppose that would be the inappropriate relationship between Bad and Jean. Yeah, I'm laying on my particular judginess over the film from my high horse. It's my blog and these are fictional characters. It's really weird that Jean is considered to be such a saving grace in this movie. Don't get me wrong, I started saying this movie was fine and it is totally is. I actually do ship Bad and Jean pretty hard like the movie wants me to. But both Bad and Jean seem kind of toxic characters to root for. Bad is obviously the toxic character. Cooper is doing that intentionally. I also believe that Jean might not be the healthiest person either. The knee-jerk reaction is that she knows that Bad is a terrible idea for a boyfriend. Bad, after all, seduces Jean completely drunk. When she meets him, he is who he is in all his glory. There is nothing hidden. He's nude, drunk, and pathetic. He comes onto her and she wants nothing to do with him. (By the way, the movie has a really weird definition of consent.) She is significantly younger than him and has a child at home. But she keeps leaving in the middle of the night, under the guise of journalistic integrity (there is none) to meet this celebrity that she's sexually attracted to.
But Jean gets the moral high ground for some reason. She knows that Bad is a dangerous choice to introduce to her son. She says so multiple times in the film. But she still does it. She knows that Bad is a raging alcoholic who can barely stand, but she leaves her kid with him. Yeah, some of the rage that is directed towards Bad is really an attack on herself, but she definitely seems to play the healthy character in this story. Part of me kind of wishes that Bad and Jean turned out to be Sid and Nancy. It's with this revelation that I just had that I realized how the movie could have been different for the better. Bad could potentially bring Jean down even lower. After all, I like me a bleak movie. But when Bad gets help for his alcoholism, his real redemption arc could be saving Jean. Instead, Jean pretends that her life choices are good ideas and that Bad is way more toxic than she is. (Okay, he is. But not by much.)
So it's a fine movie. I love me a music movie. The music is pretty darned great and the performances are great. It's just that we get this kinda/sorta lazy movie that refuses to take any chances. The actors in this movie have the acting chops to really push the line, but everything in this movie is just too darned safe.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.