THE HARDER THE LIFE, THE SWEETER THE SONG.
Washed-up country star Bad Blake (Jeff Bridges) is drinking too much and tries to avoid thinking about lost opportunities, but when he’s interviewed by a reporter (Maggie Gyllenhaal) he gets another chance. Scott Cooper’s directing debut is not unlike the previous year’s The Wrestler; the locations are equally shabby and the lead character is a broken, lonely, alcoholic entertainer who used to be somebody. Bridges based his outstanding performance on several real-life country stars and whenever the plot moves in a predictable way, the cast still keeps these characters real. T-Bone Burnett also makes sure the music is engagingly true to the genre.
2009-U.S. 111 min. Color. Widescreen. Produced by Robert Duvall, Scott Cooper, T-Bone Burnett, Rob Carliner, Judy Cairo. Written and directed by Scott Cooper. Novel: Thomas Cobb. Song: “The Weary Kind” (T-Bone Burnett, Ryan Bingham). Cast: Jeff Bridges (Bad Blake), Maggie Gyllenhaal (Jean Craddock), Robert Duvall (Wayne), Colin Farrell, Beth Grant, Tom Bower.
Trivia: Co-executive produced by Bridges, who along with Farrell does his own singing.
Oscars: Best Actor (Bridges), Original Song. Golden Globes: Best Actor (Bridges), Original Song.
Last word: “Originally what I wanted to do was tell Merle Haggard’s life story – Merle was kind of the poet laureate of country music and lived a very cinematic life. That’s the story I wanted to tell because I cut my teeth growing up in the Blue Ridge Virginia mountains listening to Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, a lot of bluegrass musicians – the greats. And I actually spent some time with Merle Haggard, but it turns out I couldn’t obtain his life rights because he had so many ex-wives and it was too difficult to navigate all of that.” (Cooper, Interview Magazine)