Country Strong (2011)

Kelly Canter (Gwyneth Paltrow) is a washed-up country and western singer, they tried to make her go to rehab but she said no, no, no. Incarcerated anyway, Canter builds up a relationship with aspiring singer-songwriter Beau Hutton (Garrett Hedlund). Let out early (aren’t they all), Canter rejoins her manager-husband on tour with Hutton and the cold-footed Chiles Stanton (her off Gossip Girl) providing additional support – both on and off the stage. As everyone sleeps with everyone, and the same three songs are sung over and over again, Hutton finds herself on a downward spiral as she approaches her all-important performance in Dallas, the sight of her previous breakdown.

Being a country and western star looks miserable, doesn’t it? Either you wind up hooked on cocaine like Johnny Cash, or you drink yourself into an early retirement like Otis “Bad” Blake – no wonder poor Miley Cyrus is so busy trying to make it as an actress.

For, however damaging to my street-cred this might be, Hannah Montana: The Movie now comprises one third of my experience with the country and western genre, Shania Twain’s music videos notwithstanding. I’m familiar with the set-up: a musical prodigy struggles with a career-defining song, falls in love and struggles to balance fame with their Stetson-wearing roots. Country Strong is too, hitting each of the plot points with a obsessive punctuality, Gwyneth Paltrow’s superstar alcoholic left to prove herself after a colossal setback. The wig is off, she’s not Hannah Montana anymore.

Despite convincing me that I must be the only person on this planet – other than Pierce Brosnan, that is – who can’t sing for sheeyit, Country Strong failed to make any lasting impression on me whatsoever, borderline entertaining though it might have been. There is something deeply unsympathetic about musicians hurting for their art, the intimacy they apparently feel while making love to a microphone completely alien to someone who can barely play the triangle. Not that this disconnection is through any fault of the actors, who by all means convince entirely – even Garrett Hedlund, who has shed his light-disc and veneered exterior for a bona-fide personality.

The truth is, however, that while Gwyneth Paltrow might wow at the Grammys, make a splash in Glee Club and steal scenes in Iron Man, she can’t stick her chin into her chest and mumble her way into the Academy’s hearts the way Jeff Bridges and Joaquin Phoenix managed so entirely. I don’t know why country and western movies get awards ceremonys so wet, but, as yet another generic emotional descent, it’s safe to say that I’ll take “The Climb” any day.


About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

One Response to Country Strong (2011)

  1. Pingback: March 2011 – You made me…a period mix? « popcornaddict

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