Thursday, April 14, 2011

Country Strong is only Heavy in the Melodrama

So most of my blogs so far have been about aspects of film but here come the reviews and my first one is a doozy.

Country Strong (1 1/2 stars out of 5)

Written and Directed by Shana Feste
Starring: Gwyneth Paltrow, Tim McGraw, Garrett Hedlund, and Leighton Meister


This film chronicles the journey of Kelly Canter (Paltrow) as she battles getting out of rehab, and tries to make a comeback from doing some pretty crazy things with alcohol on stage at a Dallas concert.  Kelly's husband James Canter (McGraw) comes to take out Kelly when she has one month left in rehab.  While in rehab Kelly meets Beau (Hedlund) whom she forms a realtionship with and she implores her husband to bring him on tour with them.  James Canter has different ideas and wants to bring Chiles Stanton (Meister) instead a Taylor Swift wannabe who unlike Kelly is more pop country.  James sees Beau save Chiles as freezes on stage and they end up doing a duet; he decides to bring both Beau and Chiles on the road with Kelly and the melodrama begins.

The worst part about this film is the writing and the directing.  The plot and direction of the film were so contrived and cliche that I felt as if I were involved in one big big long country song that would not end.  Now I like some country music, but not all of it is this whiny and melodramatic.  As the story unfolds without giving more of the plot away, you can see every story angle coming from a mile away, except maybe the ending (although the ending is the most overblown aspect of the story).  The last part of the film is just one big concert where you get to watch Gwyneth strut her stuff and she is talented and the music is decent, but with the most recent trend good music can't save bad writing.Country Strong only left me feeling heavy from melodrama, and lacked solid emotional stability.

To my surprise to most talented actor in the cast is Tim McGraw; he really sold the story the best and hit every emotion.  McGraw has grown as an actor.  Paltrow pulled off the performances and the drugged up crazy country singer well enough, but not enough to carry the film.  While Hedlund and Meister are attractive and potentially good singers their acting is the weakest of the foursome, especially Meister.  Meister's country accent just didn't cut it.

Overall this movie was lacking spirit and spark for me to make any connection with the story and the characters.  There were brief glimpses of hope like when Gwyneth Paltrow meets a young boy from the Make a Wish Foundation, but you would have to be made of stone not to feel emotions here.  The music is solid country music, and that helps, but again not enough.  Like with Burlesque a film needs more than just its music behind it.

My recommendation: Avoid it

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