Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Crazy Heart -- hitting rock bottom
Director: Scott Cooper, 2009. (R)
Country songs capture the essence of life, the ups and the downs, often focusing on the struggles and suffering. Crazy Heart captures the essence of a country singer, Bad Blake (Jeff Bridges), focusing on his struggles. A loose episodic film, it highlights the impacts the right relationship can have even on a crusty old curmudgeon.
Bad is 57, broke and just about broken-down. Years of living on the road have taken their toll. He's seen too many bars, drunk too many drinks, and even married too many women. Single again, he is a legend whose star has waned. From playing packed out stadiums, he now plays bowling alleys and two-bit bars to crowds you could count on two hands.
Driving his trusty Chevy Surburban between gigs, he plays with unknown bands and "enjoys" one-night stands with aged groupies. He is living off the fame of his one great song, the one he sings every night and can't forget. This one has him by the hairs and won't let him go. On the other hand, he can't write any new songs, so he lives in the past.
How often are we like this, living off our one great success? We score a huge deal, write a great song, author a memorable book, and that is it. When we are defined by our past success we limit our future; it becomes a dead-end street. We begin to be like Bad, driving miles and miles to arrive at nowhere we haven't been before, going through the motions of living. Life is more than this. In sports they say you are only as good as your next game. You may have just won the superbowl or the BCS, but if you cannot go out and perform anew the next time you are destined for the slagheap of dusty memories. As followers of Jesus, we live in the present with an eye to the future. Our past cannot define us. We live imperfectly until Jesus has molded us into his image (Rom. 8:29). And that work of transformation will not be complete until we reach glory (Rom. 8:30). So, we must live for the future, abiding in Jesus in the present.
Despite the good things that start to happen, Bad remains at heart self-destructive. He can convince others that he is changing, but the real Bad is unchanged. He has not followed his doctor's advice and has only empty platitudes for Jean and Buddy. He must hit rock bottom before he can find any redemption or salvation. And it takes one action of his to make this happen and to change his relationships with everyone he cares about.