The story is about a fallen country music super star, Kelly Canter (Gwyneth Paltrow) who has just finished a brief stint in rehab and after an early release her husband/manager James Canter (Tim McGraw) is eager to get her back on tour again. During her rehab Kelly befriended a young and talented boy, Beau Hutton (Garrett Hedlund), who is an aspiring musician. She only agrees to go back on tour if he opens for her. Turns out James has his eye on another opener instead, country Barbi-doll singer Chiles Stanton (Leighton Meester). As a compromise, the two budding stars end up both heading out on the road with her. One dazed stage appearance later, and it’s quite evident that Kelly is hardly ready to resume her career. And from there the story takes flight.
Sure, it's not a fantastic or solid piece of work, but what the film lacks in plot lines, it makes up for in the saving grace of the four personalities. We see Kelly and James struggle to revive a marriage weighed down by professional obligations. We see James and Beau's intense mutual apathy for Kelly's well-being, we see Kelly's icy treatment of Chiles, who returns the cold shoulder with wide-eyed admiration and finally we see Beau and Chiles' very different reactions to their first brushes with fame. I know this is a Paltrow film, but McGraw really blew me away with his well mannered, quiet, pent-up emotions. One scene in particular (where he stops dancing with Paltrow), really took my breath away. Even though it was ever so subtle, you could still taste the hurt and pain from his built up tears in his heartbroken eyes. That takes talent. It was quite moving.
The film didn't receive great reviews from critics and it may not be strong enough for all moviegoers, but Country Strong was entertaining enough for me. I actually really enjoyed my movie experience. I'm a huge Paltrow fan and I thought she did a good bringing her acting skills to the world of song. I was impressed that everyone did their own signing as well. I'm not much of a country music person, but I really enjoyed all the fun songs during the film.
Director, Shana Feste did a good job showing what it takes to have a comeback and how quickly it can all come to an end. She also did a decent job portraying the avenues of addition and the hardships that come with it, not to mention all the ups and downs that come with fame and marriage, love and above all growth. This movie isn't as happy go lucky as you might think either, in fact it's pretty intense. It caught me be surprise in a lot of ways. And I believe that's one of the reason's I enjoyed this film so much.