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Young Augusten Burroughs absorbs experiences that could make for a shocking memoir: the son of an alcoholic father and an unstable mother, he's handed off to his mother's therapist, Dr. Finch, and spends his adolescent years as a member of Finch's bizarre extended family.
Surrounded by wealth and living with abundant resources in Manhattan, 12-year-old cello prodigy Reggie, lives a solitary life lacking only frequently absent parents and friends. Estranged from family, having slacker boyfriend troubles, and fired from her waitressing job, sometimes musician 23-year-old Eleanor needs a new place to live and a new job.
A drama centered on a rising country-music songwriter (Hedlund) who sparks with a fallen star (Paltrow). Together, they mount his ascent and her comeback, which leads to romantic complications involving her husband/manager (McGraw) and a beauty queen-turned-singer (Meester). Written by
Gwyneth Paltrow stated in an interview for Chelsea Lately (2007) that she considered challenging to portray the character of Kelly Canter and to prepare for the role she emailed Robert Downey Jr. (who's been sober for a very long time) seeking for help for her to understand the process of addiction and rehabilitation, and he wrote her back with "the most amazing email" which really helped her. See more »
When Chiles is singing, during the bar scene after she freezes, the microphone stand behind her keeps moving. See more »
As a relatively new fan of country music, I must say I was disappointed in this movie. It had its moments, but overall I cannot recommend it. The clumsy, disconnected screenplay was probably the worst aspect of the film as it gave the actors little to work with. There didn't seem to be much continuity to the film, but just a bunch of scenes thrown together. Aside from her singing the title song, there was nothing about the main character (played by Gwyneth Paltrow) that was remotely strong, and the ending was hardly inspiring in that regard. I cringed through the first half of the movie, which seemed to go overboard in portraying her flaws and failures, and wondered how much lower she would get before she turned things around. It was quite depressing, with no "payoff" at the end to make it worthwhile.
What the movie does have is some pretty good music. Paltrow, Garrett Hedlund, and Leighton Meester all sang quite well and almost made this movie worth seeing. Hedlund gave the best acting performance, and Meester wasn't bad. But I was quite disappointed in Tim McGraw's effort and feel it was the weakest of his budding career. I don't know if it was because he was playing an insensitive jerk as opposed to the nice guys of his previous roles, but he seemed strained and unnatural. And as well as Paltrow sang, and as much as I have enjoyed previous work by her, she was unconvincing in her portrayal of a country superstar (limited in part by the poor script, as noted earlier). The charisma just wasn't there.
Seeing a movie like this makes me appreciate well-written and well-acted movies all the more. They have a unifying theme that takes you somewhere and ties things together at the end (unless, of course, there is to be a sequel). "Country Strong" just didn't have what it takes, but ending up looking more like a direct-to-video film. It should have been titled "Country Pathetic."
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