(12-28-09) Greetings again from the darkness. The broken down country singer finding redemption could be one of the biggest cliché’s in life and the movies. Somehow first time writer/director Scott Cooper and the great Jeff Bridges make it seem authentic, raw and touching.

Much of their success is in the amazingly subtle performance of Jeff Bridges. Heck, I believe I have the early stages of emphysema just from watching the film! Bridges’ skill has always been that he melts into his role. You don’t even believe he is acting – he is just that good. Here, he descends into the role of Bad Blake. Alcoholic, chain-smoking, nearly dead to the world.

Supporting work from Maggie Gyllenhaal is fine, though a bit unbelievable and Robert DuVall (also listed as a producer) plays Blake’s only real friend who offers him a bit of support when needed. This recalls DuVall’s excellent turn many years ago in Tender Mercies.

What sets this one apart is the realistic and raw performance of Bridges. The man is not afraid to put it on the screen. He does a good job with the singing and is certainly believable onstage. His protégé is played by Colin Farrell and their interacting is a bit awkward, as one would expect .. Farrell’s character has gone on to superstardom, while trying not to forget his mentor.

This one is being compared to The Wrestler, but I don’t feel the need to do so. It stands on it’s own and certainly Mr. Bridges should be a contender for the Oscar he has earned on more than one occasion. T Bone Burnett and the late Stephen Bruton wrote the music, including the excellent “The Weary Kind”, which should gather some Oscar love.

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