Country Strong

Gwyneth Paltrow has tried before to sell herself as a singer ("Duets"). This time, despite the able assistance of Writer/Director Shana Feste ("The Greatest") and durable co-star Tim McGraw ("The Blind Side"), I've decided I'll just keep waiting.

The real star of this film is newcomer Garrett Hedlund ("Tron: Legacy"). He is either a singer who can act or an actor who can sing, but either way, he carries the entire movie on his broad capable shoulders. He almost made up for the fact that Country music superstar Tim McGraw didn't sing one single solitary note! Aarghhh.....

This is the oft-told soggy tale of the country singer who dulls the pain of super-stardom with drugs and alcohol a la Loretta Lynn; but Paltrow is no Sissy Spacek. In a tip of the Stetson to reality, Paltrow's mascara runs every time she cries, which is often, but I found myself out of patience with both her and her husband, played by McGraw. The big-eyed ingénue who desperately wants to take her place in the limelight is played by Leighton Meester ("Gossip Girl").

Characterizations are broad:
  • Paltrow passes off her lover to her husband as her 12-Step sponsor.
  • McGraw has devolved into more Business Manager than husband.
  • Hedlund shows his heart of gold when he rescues a singer frozen with stage fright.
  • Meester just wants to be a contestant in the Miss America Contest.
The authentic country music is provided by Michael Brook, and one of the executive producers is Tobey Maguire; I guess he really DID hang up his Spiderman leotard...

I didn't dislike this movie, but I was mighty weary before Paltrow finally did cut loose and sing some songs.