Friday, February 4, 2011

"Love and fame can't live in the same place"- Country Strong

"Country Strong" is a movie I had been waiting months to see, especially after watching Gwyneth Paltrow perform the title song at the Country Music Awards. After much reluctance from the Niagara region to play the film in any of it's theaters, I finally had the pleasure of watching it.The film stars Gwyneth Paltrow as Kelly Canter, a recently rehabbed country star looking to reclaim her past success. Tim McGraw stars as her manager husband, while Garrett Hedlund and Leighton Meester star as Beau Hutton and Chiles Stanton, Kelly's opening acts for her comeback tour.

The trailers leading up to the film paint Gwyneth as the star of this film, but the real star here is the young Garrett Hedlund. The film is less about Kelly's struggle to rise to her former glory, than it is about Hedlund's struggle to remain grounded amid his own rise to fame and feelings for his mentor Kelly. Hedlund spent a month living and performing in Nashville and it shows. He could easily pass for a legitimate country singer, with his signature low voice and slight twang. He injects so much emotion in every song and every scene, that you cannot help but align yourself with his character. Hedlund never over acts, his charm and wit always subtle, and is immensely relatable to anyone who has every been confused about love or life. And o.k he might be attractive if you're into that ruggedly gorgeous, fantastic voice and charming swagger kind of thing. Obviously I'm immune.

It is no surprise that Paltrow is also great in her role. She takes a risk in something that is obviously out of her element, but she makes it believable.Unfortunately the film throws so much emotionally at her that it is hard to keep up. The story winds up seeming underdeveloped as it jumps from each intensely emotional situation to the next without ever fully concentrating on each situation to the fullest. Paltrow does what she can with the material, and what she does is seamless.

The real strength of the film is the music. The song "Coming Home" was recently nominated for an Academy Award for best original song, and it is certainly deserving of the honor. The song beautifully captures the bittersweet tone of the film, and showcases how truly talented a singer Paltrow really is. Other songs such as "Timing is Everything" and the title song "Country Strong" are just so good you can't help but sing along even if you aren't a country fan.

Overall I would recommend this movie and would urge non-country fans to give the film a chance. You just might find yourself tapping your foot along to the music like I did.


  1. Not going to lie, I was a bit reluctant to see this film, especially since I'm not really a big country fan. But you raving about it kind of convinced me. It was a lot better than I thought.

  2. Country is one of my favourite genres for both film and music. I haven't seen this, but I really look forward to it after reading your blog. Have you seen "Crazy Heart"? I haven't purchased a film's soundtrack for as long as I can remember, but I rushed to get this one.

  3. Unfortunately, I have not seen this movie although I have been very interested in seeing it. I'm a bit thrown off by Leighton Meester being in a country movie, because after all, she is absoluetly phenomenal as Blair Waldorf and its hard to think of her as the nice-girl character she is made out to play in the previews. But your raving has convinced me to check it out!