Friday, 3 December 2010

Crazy Heart

It's not uncommon for a terrible film to be heralded by a great trailer. Phantom Menace is, I think, king in this department, with a trailer that presents a fantastic rush of images and swells with evocative music, but which is transmogrified into a full-length morass that's simultaneously (and paradoxically) ponderous and all action-without-meaning at the same time.

This evening's DVD, Crazy Heart, achieved something a little similar but with an interesting difference: in a patchwork of just a few minutes, its trailer, which we caught a number of times at the cinema (hence this rental), presented the distilled essence of a story that the film, which contains all the same material and more, couldn't. The film looks great, is played well by its leads, and has the right scenes, but it somehow mangles them, such that the narrative fall-and-rise that's played out masterfully in the trailer, zigzags around, is repeatedly miscued and doesn't make for anything approaching a coherent emotional arc.

It's annoying because, while Phantom Menace really was an empty spectacle with a trailer that was pure salesperson's pitch, Crazy Heart, as both the trailer and film illustrate, had all the right ingredients for success. There was always the risk of disappearing into clichéd, self-destructive-musician tropes, but I think employing a narrative-blind editor was where the wheels really fell off. It's not a good day when the hatchet man from marketing brought into make the trailer has a better grip on the story than the film-makers.

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