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“Country Strong” — Unrealized Potential

Country Strong
Sony Pictures

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Country Strong

Starring: Gwyneth Paltrow, Garrett Hedlund, Tim McGraw, Leighton Meester

Summary: Kelly Canter (Paltrow) is a country singer dealing with the demons of fame.  Her husband/manager James (McGraw) is orchestrating a comeback tour to repair her image. Along the way she finds comfort in the hunky Beau Hutton (Hedlund) and completion in the lovely Chiles Stanton (Meester), both of whom join her on the tour.

All I’ve heard about this film is how fantastic Paltrow’s musical talent is and I definitely agree. But while all the vocal performances are great, the acting and storyline fall flat. The story seems emotionally disjointed and overly dramatic at times. Hedlund has a certain charm on-screen but his character is not clearly defined.  Is he there to save Kelly or to romance Chiles?

The story of a struggling country artist is not a new one and has been done better before.  In cases like Walk the Line and more recently Crazy Heart, the storyline and acting were just as powerful as the singing.  While it’s not a horrible film Country Strong just doesn’t seem to reach its full potential.  Grade: C

Trivia: Garrett Hedlund auditioned for this role at a karaoke bar.  When he landed the part he worked for four months taking guitar and voice lessons.

Rated: PG-13 – for some sexual content and alcohol abuse.

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