I watched a movie recently. It was Crazy Heart, starring Jeff Bridges as a washed-up country music star named “Bad” who is drinking and smoking himself into an early grave as he makes the rounds of dive bars and bowling alleys trying to pick up a few bucks to keep himself in whiskey and cigarettes. He’s not doing it very well. He’s been married and divorced four times and has a 28 year old son he hasn’t seen since the boy was 4. He is in many ways the epitome of a loser. It’s every cliché you’ve ever heard about country music.
“Bad,” who lets us know a couple of times that he’s 57, gets what looks like a last shot at love but blows it because of his drinking. That forces him to clean up his act, and he rediscovers in himself his ability to write songs that touch people. The ending is bittersweet and I won’t spoil it for you, but I thought the acting was quite good and will tell you I enjoyed it.
I have not read the book upon which the movie was based and can’t speak to its originality, but the movie was absolutely predictable at almost every step along the way. I could see every move behind the scenes that was meant to play on the audience’s emotions, to tug on their heartstrings as the saying goes, from the achingly cute kid to the moment when “Bad” lies on his bathroom floor sick after another night of drinking. But despite this, I enjoyed the movie. I knew where they were leading me and I willingly agreed to be led there. I won’t call it a great movie but I didn’t feel like I wasted my time.
I guess I believe there’s a place for heartstrings tugging movies, and books. I didn’t always think that way. I’d say it was because I’m getting older, but that’s pretty cliché in its own right. I know it’s not because I’m getting wiser. I definitely think there’s an element of openness in me these days that I didn’t used to have. I don’t feel as if I need resist the emotional tug of certain kinds of stories. I wonder why I ever did.
How about you? What movie or book have you seen/read that tugged at the old heartstrings? Was it predictable and you liked it anyway? Can you say why?