By: Oberst von Berauscht (Four Beers)-
Kelly Canter (Gwyneth Paltrow) is a famous pop-country idol who, alongside her husband and manager James (Tim McGraw) is trying to make a comeback after a stint in rehab.Kelly seems at times to want to soldier on, but carries emotional baggage stemming from an alcoholic episode that resulted in the death of her unborn son.In rehab, she had a tryst with Beau Hutton (Garrett Hedlund), and asks James to make him an opening act on her comeback tour, alongside rising star Chiles Stanton (Leighton Meester), who is having an affair with James, but later falls for Beau, and meanwhile Kelly is trying to continue the affair with Beau…
Cuckolding aside, the tour is a mess; Kelly cannot stop drinking, and it is destroying her and everyone around her.
I do have much good to say for the cast. Standing out is non-actor Tim McGraw, who manages to portray a man torn apart by the often contradictory duties of a business manager and his duties as a husband.Leighton Meester also deserves credit for her intriguingly bright-eyed character.She is a country singer who longs for fame, but is possibly too naïve to survive on her own.The main characters are mostly handled well, with one exception…
There are two intertwined stories in this movie.One is that of the falling star, deep in depression, and constantly being reminded of her faults.She sinks herself deeper and deeper, hoping to find a reason to forget, or escape.The problem is that this story is tied with a romantic story of two young lovers, and switches moods at the drop of a hat.Much of this problem is with the filmmaker’s handling of Paltrow’s character, as her portrayal of alcoholism is melodramatic at best, schizophrenic at worst.At times her freak-outs are so extreme you wonder if the film reels got switched with a Darren Aronofsky flick.
This leaves the audience wondering if they are supposed to be horrified by or drawn to the characters.Last year produced the similarly alcohol-soaked character of Bad Blake (Jeff Bridges) in the film Crazy Heart, which managed to juggle a romantic subplot much more deftly.
As a rule, the press loves to draw attention to the past failures of celebrities; perhaps this presents another barrier to sobriety than your average person might encounter.Or is it the complications of relationships that are holding them back?Maybe it could be that fame itself is an addiction, a curse that has to be lifted in order to love.Love sets us free from the commercial wants and needs of organized society, but drugs and alcohol can have a devastating effect on relationships…
The previous paragraph makes no sense.Certainly each individual sentence has a meaning that it tries to convey, but as a whole, it is a mishmash of ideas.These could logically be tied together, if there was ultimately some kind of purpose to it all.Raise your glass to Country Strong, a film that is filled with heart, has some good ideas behind it, but cannot reconcile itself to being anything because it wants so badly to be everything.
Ask any friend of mine and they’ll tell you I am the first to the theatres to see a three hour epic.Clocking in at just less than two hours, Country Strong is miserably slow.This reinforces my previous point, about the film wanting to do too many things.Had the editor taken some time and pared down either story arc into a mere side plot, one of the two stories would have made for a better movie.Instead we are treated to two long openings, two sets of rising action, and two simultaneous climaxes.
Like most pop music, this film is full of sound and fury, signifying nothing…
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: whenever Gwyneth Paltrow drinks
Take a Drink: every time the name “Kelly Canter” is repeated
Down a shot: for every crappy Pop-Country song