Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on June 2010
“Bad” Blake was long ago a major C&W singer-songwriter, with fans filling arenas to watch his shows. But alcoholism and bad choices have reduced him to playing bowling alleys, and he plays them because, well, he needs the money and, besides, what else would he do? A chance at redemption arrives with the love of a single mother 25 years his junior (Maggie Gyllenhaal), if only he can stop drinking. You’ve seen all this before, but somehow it’s fresh here. You trust this movie. Comparisons to Mickey Rourke’s The Wrestler are accurate, but only in tone; Jeff Bridges never needed a comeback role. In his decades-long career, he has disappeared into a variety of characters and made all of them totally believable. Blake offers no apologies, and Bridges refuses to imbue his character with self-pity or cynicism. Just a weary dignity. It is what it is. After four previous nominations, Bridges earns his Best Actor Oscar. The film, along with the great songs by T-Bone Burnett and the late Stephen Bruton, hits all the right notes, with lyrics like, “I used to be somebody, but now I’m somebody else.” Bridges sings pretty good, too.