While out on tour to revive her stalled career, once-popular country singer Kelly (Gwyneth Paltrow) falls for emerging newcomer Beau (Garrett Hedlund) and tries desperately to hide their burgeoning romance from her ever-present husband and manager, Ed (Tim McGraw). Written and directed by Shana Feste, this musical drama co-stars Leighton Meester as a former beauty queen trying to break out as a songstress.
Rating: 4 out of 10
Country Strong. It isn’t long exactly, but it does feel like it won’t end.
There are too many main characters – Gwyneth, a country super star fresh out of rehab; McGraw, her asshole of a husband and manager; and the two young wannabes along for the ride. The writer really should have picked whose story this was before trying to jam all their lives down our throats. As the story builds it feels forced and phony. This is not at all like last year’s successful movie about a washed up, drunk country star – Crazy Heart, which was authentic and raw.
Country Strong moves along quickly, it has to in order to fit it all in. Alcoholism, dead babies, affairs, parents in prison, lies, music – this movie has it all. The story isn’t unfolding as much as is being thrown at us. The scenes don’t build and reveal secrets slowly, they just spat out some issue and then the next scene spats out something new and unbelievable. And even without any build up everything is completely predictable.
I don’t really like any of the characters but the secondary leads are better than Tim and Gwyneth. It is weird watching Blair Waldorf sing country music, but she’s not bad. The young, sweet country crooner, who prefers singing in honky-tonks to good people who just want to hear some good music while they drink their beer, is cute, but his facial hair is distracting. It’s long and straight and grows in patches. He needs to shave.
The end came just in time with a big, sad, to some, dramatic finale that, again, is predictable even though there isn’t any preparation for it.