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
Garrett Hedlund auditioned at a karaoke bar in Koreantown singing a Pearl Jam song. According to director Shana Feste, "It really wasn't the best showcase ever of his voice, but Garrett went to school for us. Literally, he took four months off and started learning how to play the guitar, took voice lessons, went to Nashville early, started working with Nathan Chapman, a record producer in Nashville who produces Miranda Lambert. I mean, he became a country singer." See more »
After the third show which was in Dallas, someone announced that "The Chronicle" was there. The Chronicle is the Austin entertainment guide; not Dallas. 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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