Starring: Gwyneth Paltrow, Tim McGraw, Garrett Hedlund, Leighton Meester
Written and directed by: Shana Feste
A ripped-from-the-tabloids story, Country Strong shows the come-back attempt of talented and award-winning country singer, Kelly Cantor [Gwyneth Paltrow]. Her manager-husband [Tim McGraw] yanks her out of rehab early and insists that she get right back on tour and go back to Dallas where she collapsed, drunk and five-months pregnant. Kelly’s husband has smudged the line between love and fame. It’s quite evident he sees his wife as a cash machine. Two up-and-coming country singers open for her—Beau Hutton and Chiles Stanton. Kelly had an affair at the rehab with Beau [Garrett Hedlund], an honest, caring guy who understands her fragility and won’t take advantage of her. Hedlund’s a scene stealer. Charisma goes a long way. As Chiles Stanton, Leighton Meester truly shines as a starry eyed dreamer. Paltrow achingly and deftly reveals every self-doubt and struggle with losing herself, her career, her youth and her lifestyle. As for the music? I’m an alternative music fan but do enjoy a bit of country pop by Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood. I was tapping my toes to this music. I’m not giving away the ending but I knew how it would end is all this macabre critic will reveal.