Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Country Strong

Country Strong
Director: Shana Feste
Cast:  Gwyneth Paltrow, Tim McGraw, Garrett Hedlund, Leighton Meester

In My Own Words
Does anybody else find it funny that the only star of Country Strong who is first and foremost a singer outside this film, doesn't sing?

I bet you didn't pick that up until you just read that! Tim McGraw lives and breathes country music being the winner of three Grammy's, married to another country superstar, Faith Hill and has sold millions of records. I can imagine many country music fans would have flocked to see Country Strong in hope of seeing their idol sing on the big screen. Yes he has been in other films in which he hadn't sung in, but this film surely would have been the one he did considering it is about country singers such as himself. Not that it is a bad thing at all because it seperates him as a true actor rather than a singer only trying to be an actor, but it is just interesting that he is the only singer before actor out of the four and the only one who doesn't sing. That's all.

These are my own words and here is my review.

Well, this is probably one cast you probably thought you would never see together in a film. We have Academy Award winner Gwyneth Paltrow, country music superstar Tim McGraw, TRON: Legacy heart throb Garrett Hedlund and Gossip Girl and sometimes pop singer Leighton Meester. Interesting cast, but what about the movie around the cast, Country Strong?

Country Strong is one of those films which require a lot of brain power. Not during the film, but to actually figure out whether you enjoy it or not. It has good points and bad points, just as it has good songs and bad songs. Yet, it is worth a watch for a bit of cheese and a bit of drama.Country music fans will be ecstatic at the long awaited release of a country music film which proves country music to be cool and fun, and not dreary like it is sometimes made out to be.

After a horrific night nine months before in Texas when country music superstar, Kelly Canter (Gwyneth Paltrow) appeared onstage drunk, fell over a microphone cord, plummeted and lost her unborn child, her husband and manager, James (Tim McGraw)belives she is ready for her comeback tour. However, Kelly's younger lover and country music start on the rise, Beau (Garrett Hedlund) is not quite as sure. James oprganises a sold out tour of Nashville, Austin and Dallas for Kelly and takes Beau and the young starlet, Chiles Stanton (Leighton Meester) along as support acts. These young stars are ready for their moment in the sun, but it seems that Kelly has already had hers.

There is always something fun about films based on the movie industry, and Country Strong is no exception. Something that Country Strong is also no exception for is that it is cheesy and contains stereo-typical characters for a film of this type. There are some great songs which would do well if they were released on their own ("Timing Is Everything") and then some really horrible and overly corny songs ( the horrible but somehow catchy and toe- tapping "Summer Girl"). There are moments of thrill and goosebumps where the the stars are applauded by massive concert crowds. Country Strong ticks all boxes for a cheesy entertainment based spectacular.

However, Country Strong is inconcsistent to say the least. The story is actually very good and quite entrancing at times, but the script is quite lame which destroys the vibe of the story. There are un-nesccessary lines where there should just be emotion through facial expressions and this would have made the movie far more endearing. For example, when Chiles gives her first performance in front of James to prove she is good enough to tour with Kelly, the audience would have benefited far more if her character had shown her ambition and then nerves through her body language and facial expressions rather than her lines. Yet, the ending is still strong and quite unpredictable.

Gwyneth Paltrow does very well in this film. She plays out well the woman who everyone thought was very close to making a full recovery and goes on a downward spiral into coming undone once again. At the beginning of the film, she is not quite as strong a character as what she becomes in the audiences eyes further into the film. The only thing about Paltrow's performance is that she really has no chemistry with her co-stars. She doesn't seem to be overly in love with her husband ( although at times you're not sure whether she actually is) and there is no chemsitry between her and Garrett Hedlund at all.

 Tim McGraw is also very good, yet one would expect him to be in a film which is based on his main career outside the film. He shows a tremendous amount of love and pain for his wife. It is unclear whether he is actually supposed to be a good guy or a bad guy in this film. He seemingly forces his wife back into the spotlight when she clearly is not ready, yet he never fails in his love for her and, unlike his wife, doesn't have a wandering eye.

Garrett Hedlund is fine. He does well, but his performance is not by any means spectacular. However, who knew he had the perfect voice for country music? Leighton Meester's Chiles doesn't have a particular strong character and at the beginning she starts off quite weak as a result of a bad script, but she finishes off quite well. When happy, her smile does definitely light up the screen.

Country Strong is not the dramatic film which director, Shana Feste may or may not have wanted it to be. It has as many flaws as it does strengths, and like it or not, it is still a fun watch. The combination of Paltrow, McGraw, Hedlund and Meester is enough to bring in the curious folk.

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