Country Strong: A Belated Review

Gwyneth Paltrow stars in this romantic drama as troubled country superstar Kelly Canter, who hits rock bottom and gets checked in to rehab after losing her baby to an accident when she performed drunk on a Dallas stage. Real life country superstar and multiple Grammy winner Tim McGraw takes on the role of her husband/manager James, whom, because of grief and disappointment over the direction his wife’s life has taken, comes across as a controlling heartless bastard. Garrett Hedlund (Tron Legacy) stars as Kelly’s paramour and confidante Beau, whose concern for the fallen superstar prods him to go on tour with her as her opening act and Leighton Meester rounds up the cast as Chiles Stanton,  a young beauty queen who is being groomed to be the country star’s  successor.

I’m not really big on country music or Gwyneth Paltrow for that matter but I must admit that after seeing this film and witnessing the talent of these actors as they take on the stage like professionals, I now have a finer appreciation for how great country music is. Garrett Hedlund is super charming and is very confident on stage that it would come as no surprise if he truly enjoyed performing in real life. His grin as he sings is infectious and his voice has a distinctive timbre that could actually work in the country circuit. I initially thought that Leighton’s character would turn out to be scheming bitch whose ambition would drive her to do horrible things to sabotage the tour but to my great surprise, Chiles was 100 percent a good girl in this film, with no trace of Blair Waldorf’s arrogance or penchant for mischief whatsoever. Her performance on stage was a bit awkward and her voice better suited for pop rather than country but Leighton still made it work. Actually, the chemistry between her and Garret was so strong that there were times that I forgot that they were merely secondary characters.

I got a kick out of watching Tim McGraw starring in a country film about music and not even lifting a guitar to strum some tunes. However, he gave justice his role as a frustrated husband/ manager who is caught between wanting his wife to be the person he fell in love with and wanting what’s best for her career. Gwyneth played drunk for half of the film but in the times that she had her moments, she had them and sold them.

The best thing about this drama, in my opinion, is the soundtrack. I could not wait to get my hands on the album because the songs were just awesome. I think that the tracks in this soundtrack were way better than the songs that Leighton performed prior and she may have a future singing these types of songs once her run on Gossip Girl ends.

All in all, Country Strong was a great movie. It struck a balance between the drama and the music and turned up solid performances both acting-wise and musically from its four main stars. There might be some storylines that could have ended better but the final outcome was a good conclusion so no complaints from this end.

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