Fame is fleeting -- what comes next? This is one of the questions posed by Crazy Heart, a look at a country singer whose glory days have gone and who is his own worst enemy.

Bad Blake (Jeff Bridges) has it rough. A one-time country star, Blake is now, in his words, 57 and broke. He smokes constantly, he drinks constantly, and he hasn't written a new song in years. Blake's touring consists of driving an old jeep to bars and bowling alleys in the southwest, often followed by one-night stands with fans. And his one-time protege Tommy Sweet (Colin Farrell) has become a superstar by playing music Blake doesn't consider real country music.

Blake's chance for redeption may come from Jean Craddock (Maggie Gyllenhaal), a young reporter related to a musician in one of Blake's performances. Initially only interested in an interview, Craddock falls for Blake's charms. Being divorced and a single mother, she feels that she should know better, and she remains cautions even while falling for the singer.

Crazy Heart is a simple movie anchored by some great performances. Jeff Bridges is absolutely terrific as a man who seems to drift through life thanks to his former celebrity. Blake can still play a mean song (kudos to Bridges as he sings all his songs), but his self-destructive ways keep holding him back and keeping him down. Gyllenhaal is, as always, terrific, this time as the woman who knows she should know better about the May-December romance. The story is fairly straightforward -- Blake's self-destructive path and shot at turning things around -- but the terrific music and great acting make Crazy Heart a step above most once-famous star tales.

Overall grade: B+
Reviewed by James Lynch

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