The movie “Country Strong” (much like the life of its central character, a country music singer portrayed by Gwyneth Paltrow) is a mess. The film was directed by Shana Feste who hasn’t directed many films. I’m sorry to say that it shows.
I like Gwyneth Paltrow. She’s a good actress; she’s lovely; and she’s proven she can sing. But her performance here as Kelly Canter, a star with a drinking problem plus a few other issues, comes off as muddled and incomplete. This is not entirely her fault, since 75% of the film seems muddled and incomplete. Essentially “Country Strong” is a series of melodramatic vignettes–loosely strung together by an illusive storyline. In fact, I kept thinking, here are several characters in search of a movie plot.
The movie is about how Canter copes with her problems–drinking, marital issues with her husband (played by Tim McGraw), previously losing her unborn child in a fall from a concert stage in Dallas, then trying to make a comeback after leaving rehab. Add to this mix: two rising young singers, one male and one female (Garrett Hedlund and Leighton Meester), who spice things up with sex appeal and song. Oh, there’s also a baby bird. Let’s not forget the baby bird. I know. It makes no sense here, just like in the movie.
The acting was generally good–but the characters were so one-dimensional that the acting seemed to be mostly a whole lot of over-emoting about nothing. Think lots of whispers, dramatic looks, platitudes, angst, flirting and the like. I feel like if these actors had been cast in a movie with a fully realized script–and with better direction–then it could have been great.
The final 20 minutes of the film were not bad in my opinion–trite, but with an emotional impact, and, well, at least the final scenes were edited together coherantly. Much of the singing in the film was enjoyable–all of the actors did their own singing, and they were all good. Hedlund and Meester who portrayed the film’s young rising country singers showed a lot of charisma. One leaves the theater thinking, those two will probably be in a good movie some day.
Rating: 1.5 out of 4 stars
2010, Rated PG-13, 117 minutes, Drama, Music