Bridges finally won his Academy Award for his portrayal of Bad Blake, a hard-drinking washed-up country legend relegated to performing in bowling alleys and dive bars. During a stop in Santa Fe, he agrees to an interview from an equally damaged journalist (Gyllenhaal, also nominated) and a connection is formed.
There is no way in hell this relationship can succeed and every reason to believe it’s only going to make things worse for ol’ Bad. But one of the strengths of Cooper’s underrated adaptation (also his directorial debut) is the redemptive quality of the storytelling.
Okay, sure: Bad’s struggle with staying sober probably shouldn’t have been so easy and the last act coasts along. But I wanted so badly for Bad to get himself right that I was more than willing to overlook those things. Farrell is uncredited as a major country star a la Tim McGraw.
The music, credited to Stephen Bruton, T-Bone Burnett and Ryan Bingham – and performed by Bridges and Farrell – is comprised of sturdy and catchy songs, which might be one of the most believable things about this film. (Fox Searchlight)
— DENNIS WILLIS