Jeff Bridges is pretty much the whole show, and a generous show it is. His Bad Blake, given name to be held back for the gravestone, is an over-the-hill and down-on-his-luck C&W singer still living the life of a C&W song, four marriages behind him, long lonely drives and cheap motels and cheaper women in front of him, a chain smoker and a hard-at-it alcoholic (preferred poison, fictitious McClure's bourbon) on a free fall to the unseen bottom and, on impact, the uncertain bounce-back to redemption. As one of his lyrics neatly sums it up: "I used to be somebody, now I'm somebody else." The actor's singing voice amounts to a dull blade that has a hard time cutting through the expert arrangements by T Bone Burnett, who with the late Stephen Bruton co-wrote the original songs in the crying-in-your-beer genre. But then too, the actor's speaking voice, a low rumble through a mouthful of marbles, has a hard enough time cutting through thin air, as if he could use a hit of oxygen before and after each utterance. To outward appearances, he's approximately one-third Kris Kristofferson (the constipated voice and the wheezy wince to produce it) and two-thirds Waylon Jennings (the greasy stringy hair, the bedraggled beard, the shades, the leather vest, the paunch), in no part original but in every part authentic. With Maggie Gyllenhaal, Colin Farrell, and Robert Duvall; directed by Scott Cooper. (2009) — Duncan Shepherd
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