I’ve said before that Jeff Bridges is quite possibly the most underrated actor working today. Well, it looks like he’s finally going to get the recognition he deserves. His portrayal of a hard-living country singer in the twilight of his career is garnering more Oscar buzz than he has ever received. Bridges doesn’t seem like a guy too caught up with awards, but come next month, he may very well be holding a little statue of his own.
Bad Blake (Bridges) is a shadow of his former self. Once a country western star, he now travels from town to town in an antique Suburban performing in bowling alleys and dive bars, chain smoking and subsisting on fast food and bourbon…mostly bourbon. His life has been completely overshadowed by a young protégé, Tommy Sweet (Colin Farrell), who performs in giant venues while Blake staggers through shows for anyone who can remember him. His life changes when he becomes taken with a young writer, Jean (Maggie Gyllenhaal), and the two begin an affair. Bad sees in Jane and her young son Buddy (Jack Nation) a chance for a do-over, to be the parent and husband he never was. Unfortunately, his lifestyle and alcoholism are not exactly conducive to playing the model father.
I don’t want to say anything that will take away from Bridges’ performance; he is stellar. Truly, the entire cast is tremendous—with the glaring exception of Farrell, who is woefully miscast. But Bridges carries the film on his capable shoulders, appearing in every scene, many times alone. That being said, the film is long and extremely slow, and the story sounds like one we’ve heard before. Bridges’ performance is a 10, the film is a five. Average it out to a 7.