Country Strong – movie review

by Rick Grant
This scenario is like one long country song. It features a broken down star, an up and coming ingenue, a hunky guy in his old pickup truck, and honky-tonk saloons.
Gwyneth Paltrow portrays Kelly Canter, an alcoholic train wreck. At a concert in Dallas, she was pregnant, drunk, and fell off the stage, losing her baby. The after months in rehab and therapy, Kelly emerges with her husband/manager, James (Tim McGraw) to resume her career, but not fully recovered. With Kelly back on the scene, a devilishly handsome aspiring singer/songwriter, Beau Hutton (Garrett Hedlund) appears as her recovery “sponsor.”
Written and directed by Shana Feste, her entire script is one long cliche–from the crazy ass bitch star to the dreamy boyfriend. It drips with maudlin romantic entanglements. The best way to view this film is while drinking beer in a seedy bar. Viewers can smell the stale beer from the screen.
A young pretty ingenue, Chiles Stanton (Leighton Meester) is traveling with Kelly as a first opening act. Beau likes her but considers her too young and naive to show interest, initially .
This scenario harkens back to a tried and true formula of movies like “The Rose,” “A Star is Born,” and Jeff Bridges’ Oscar nominated “Crazy Heart.” Hey, rehab is compulsory for country stars to gain their country street credibility. It’s an important part of their resumes.
Yeah, there is something about being filthy rich and successful that makes these beautiful country divas depressed which leads to addiction. Can’t they just enjoy their success, have a few beers with the band, and lay off the vodka and drugs? Naw, it’s an occupational hazard of big time touring.
The script resolves in a completely implausible conclusion. It’s like Shana Feste had no idea about the realities of the music biz.
Gwyneth Paltrow revels in her role as country star and for the most part plays Kelly skillfully. However, Garrett Hedlund is the real star of this booze dripping circle jerk
of yahoos with guitars. His flashy eyes and smile will make the female viewers giddy with sexual desire. Hey, the bottom line is sex, drugs, and crying in my beer songs.