Country Strong follows Kelly (Paltrow), a fallen country singer struggling with addiction who embarks on a comeback tour with her husband and manager (McGraw) after her release from rehab. The storyline also follows the starting careers of two rising country stars, both of whom are opening acts on Kelly’s tour; Beau (Hedlund) and Chiles (Meester). The film focuses on Paltrow’s complex character as the struggling star and the supporting characters revolve around her in a web that has them all caught up between romances and fame.

Like the lyrics of a country song, the film has subtle nuances and bears a lot more than what appears on the surface. The actors give all that they have in terms of sincere performances and flawless singing. Paltrow presents a more realistic post-rehab image than what is usually portrayed in dramas; she craftily combines self-pity with hopelessness without a hint of exaggeration or pretentiousness.

However, the story itself drags on too long, to the point that you just want to get to the end of the film to see how it ends. The final thirty minutes is where the film really reaches its peak, with previous events making more sense and a couple of welcome twists before the end. However, the film could have done with more exciting scenes to compensate for the excessive focus on the characters’ very slow development.

The music in Country Song is pretty decent and features the real vocals of the whole cast; who would have known that Hudland – previously seen in the blockbuster Tron – had such a strong singing voice? Paltrow sings well enough to give weight to her characters’ singing capabilities. Fortunately, the songs don’t drag on too long to bore the audience; but long enough to give authenticity to the film.

Country fans are more likely to appreciate Country Strong both for the music and the story’s hidden depth and it will definitely be sending country/pop fans searching for the heartfelt soundtrack. It is also worth watching if you really want to make sure that Gwyneth Paltrow can sing, and she definitely can.