A group of 12 teenagers from various backgrounds enroll at the American Ballet Academy in New York to make it as ballet dancers and each one deals with the problems and stress of training and getting ahead in the world of dance.
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
Tim McGraw, a highly successful country musician, does not sing or perform in the film. The rest of the main cast are the opposite. See more »
A billboard referencing Nashville exit 209A is very prominent in the background and they show the Nashville skyline while supposedly in Dallas. They also had real Nashville TV station logos on their microphones. 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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