Written and directed by Shana Feste
Starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Garrett Hedlund, Leighton Meester, Tim McGraw
Gwyneth Paltrow’s passable voice is about the only thing that holds your attention in “Country Strong,” provided you like or tolerate new country music. If you don’t, you’d best let this movie mosey on by.
Paltrow plays country singer/songwriter Kelly Canter, who’s been yanked out of rehab by a husband-slash-manager (Tim McGraw) more interested in her career than her well-being.
Mentally wrecked by a public crash-and-burn — she drunkenly tumbled off a concert stage while five months pregnant, losing the baby — Kelly falls hard during the tour. She’s marginally comforted by her hunky opening-act singer (Garrett Hedlund), who woos ladies with his talk of loving the humble honky-tonk life and playing for the love of music, blah, blah, blah. Even with her soulful boy toy, though, Kelly’s life starts to take on the shape of a cliched, woeful country song.
The actors do the best they can — except perhaps for McGraw, whose face registers a single doleful expression throughout the entire movie — but their efforts are futile when the platitudinous dialogue borders on self-parody. This ham-fisted attempt at heartfelt drama is way off the mark.