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Country Strong

Country Strong: Rich Country Drama

  • Garrett HedlundGwyneth Paltrow...
  • Drama
  • Out now
  • Shana Feste
reviewed by
Salma Tantawi
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Country Strong: Rich Country Drama

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.

Like This? Try

Crazy Heart, Almost Famous, Falling From Grace

360 Tip

Ironically, Tim McGraw, the one professional musician to star in the film, is the only one not to actually sing.

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