I am not sure when it was that a Hollywood screenwriter invaded the space in my brain reserved for late-night semi-erotic thoughts about lives that I’ll probably never lead and decided to turn one of them into a blockbuster movie but it’s finally happened. The bedtime story I tell myself about being wooed by a down-on-his-luck, ageing country music singer who has a striking resemblance to Waylon Jennings has finally been turn into a film.
Crazy Heart tells the story of Bad Blake (Jeff Bridges), an alcoholic singer/songwriter whose success belongs to yesteryear. The craggy-faced Lothario meets a young journalist called Jean Craddock (Maggie Gyllenhaal) and they start a doomed romance. The love between them inevitably crumbles because of Blake’s inevitable destiny to die a miserable bastard like most country music greats. But though their love fails, Blake is able to resurrect his career by writing songs about it.
Are you creaming your pants yet? Probably not. But please understand, as a real-life young journalist with more than a passing interest in old school country, this movie is pretty much a porn flick with banjos. If the story sounds vaguely familiar, it is because it is based on the 1987 Thomas Cobb novel of the same name. The film-makers have taken some liberties however, since it was first hoped that the original project would be a film about Merle Haggard.
After haggling over the rights to make a Haggard film and failing, it was eventually decided to make a movie that intertwined the biographical details of three seminal outlaw country artists – Merle Haggard, Kris Kristofferson and the aforementioned dreamboat who gives me reason enough to sleep happily at night, Waylon Jennings.
Both Jeff Bridges and Maggie Gyllenhaal have received Academy Award nominations for their roles in the film, which begins screening in Australia on February 18.