Sunday, 21 March 2010

Crazy Heart and Character love

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My hubby and I saw Crazy Heart last night. And Jeff Daniels did earn his Oscar.
But as far as the movie went, *shrug*
I just didn't get invested in the characters much. I felt somewhat distanced and didn't care.
On the way home, the Hubster and I compared this movie to WALK THE LINE and we
both agreed that WTL was waaaaaaaaaaaay better as movies go. I CARED about Johnny Cash.
So why didn't I care about Bad?
As a writer, I NEED to find this out. I want readers to fall in love with my characters, to root for them, to be invested in them. What did WALK THE LINE have that CRAZY HEART didn't? IMHO:

1. Sympathy -  We didn't see Bad BEFORE, when he was still wet behind the ears, full of hope and excitement. It was easier to fall in love with "Johnny" because of his sad upbringing and because of his early, eager years. When CRAZY opens, we see an overweight, alcoholic, chimney smoking, greasy-haired, past-his-prime country music star. If I'd seen Bad in his prime or in childhood flashbacks, maybe I would have related to him better.
In "The Writer's Journey" Christopher Vogler talks about establishing The Ordinary World, in which the main character is introduced and is hoped to be portrayed as "relatable." We don't have to even like the character but we have to be able to "understand his plight and imagine ourselves behaving in much the same ways, given the same background, circumstances and motivation." I think a little bit of backstory could have helped achieve this in CH.

2. Physical attractiveness - Face it, throughout CH, Bad is not attractive. The movie star Jeff Bridges is a hunk, but his character, Bad, was pretty scummy. Even when Bad cleaned up his act, he still looked like he needed a shower, a haircut and a generous amount of deodorant. Under this same heading was his constant smoking, which, I understand was part of his character, but it just added to his scumminess. Take it out of the intimate scenes and maybe I would have found him a smidgeon more attractive.

3. Realistic relationship - I'm sorry, but I just couldn't buy that cute Maggie Whoeversheis, whom I always think is Katie Holmes, would fall for this drunk, sweaty, much older guy. Maybe
I don't believe it because I didn't see his attractiveness (see #2.) If we could have seen him really clean up and look sharp for her a few times, we could see a glimmer of hope of what he could be, what might keep her trying in this relationship. Or maybe if we'd known more about her and what makes her tick - maybe then we could have seen how she'd fall for this guy. Or, if there was a scene in the beginning of their relationship that showed a glimmer of something really admirable in him, he'd win us over, along with the cute girl. But all he did was be nice to her cute kid and make biscuits.

4. Fill in the blank. What makes you root for a character? or not?


  1. Hi Bev. You know, I did root for Bad. I saw him as a wounded bird, totally understood that he was this great artist who had fallen hard. And my sympathy was upped even higher by seeing his former mentee surpass him. And I can't explain it because I certainly don't like smokers or big fat sweaty men, but I found him completely attractive throughout the film! Perhaps it was his eyes. Perhaps it was his soul. I loved Crazy Heart more than Walk the Line because it seemed more understated to me. But that's why there's chocolate and vanilla! :-) Interesting post.

  2. Huh! Well, I may be in the minority since the guy won an Oscar, for pete's sake! It's just not the kind of movie I'd gush to a friend that they'd HAVE to see. Whereas, WTL was.
    Yes, chocolate, and vanilla...and bubble gum and pralines& cream and peppermint and...