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71 of 74 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Slightly disjointed, but still enjoyable film
Kelly Canter (portrayed by Gwyneth Paltrow) is one of the biggest country music stars on the planet, and she's also struggling with many demons. A year after a tragic (and very public) accident in Dallas derailed her career, Kelly has emerged from rehab, and is quickly sent back on the road by her husband-manager James (Tim McGraw). James, who is now more Kelly's...
Published on January 9, 2011 by Jeff Wiley

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The music in my ears trumps the movie in front of my eyes...
I'm all for this revitalization of Gwyneth Paltrow's career. I adore her 90's work and find her recent stint on `Glee' as well as her comeback to film (and departure into music) to be wholly welcome and something I can't get enough of. Paltrow is a true talent; a shining star and I'm so happy that she's made her way back to us. While `Country Strong' as a film is very...
Published on July 20, 2011 by Andrew Ellington


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71 of 74 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Slightly disjointed, but still enjoyable film, January 9, 2011
By 
This review is from: Country Strong [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Kelly Canter (portrayed by Gwyneth Paltrow) is one of the biggest country music stars on the planet, and she's also struggling with many demons. A year after a tragic (and very public) accident in Dallas derailed her career, Kelly has emerged from rehab, and is quickly sent back on the road by her husband-manager James (Tim McGraw). James, who is now more Kelly's manager than husband, recruits a singing beauty queen named Chiles Stanton (Leighton Meester) to join Kelly's "Encore" tour. Kelly, enamored during her rehab stint with a musically talented intern named Beau Hutton (Garrett Hedlund), insists that he supports Kelly on the tour, as well. James agrees, but only on the condition that Beau's role is sponsor first, musician second. The complex layers of relationships among the main characters is the essence of 'Country Strong'.

All of the actors turn in very convincing performances, Hedlund's not the least among them. Hedlund's turn as a gifted musician more in love with music than with the idea of fame is second only to Paltrow's authentic depiction of the troubled superstar. McGraw gets better with every role that he receives, although his character range might be limited. Meester's interpretation of the "Country Barbie" has legs, and healthy ones at that. Her character was the most well developed in the film, start to finish.

As the writing goes, I found it to be a little sloppy. The emotional pendulum swings so quickly and frantically among the characters, that it becomes difficult to get invested in even one of them, let alone all of them. The story is not difficult to follow, but some instances of interaction are questionable, if not unbelievable. There are also elements surrounding the film that even make it feel a little dated. That said, I did find the pacing of the film to be solid and steady. I also found the victories and defeats that the characters experience I found to be a plus for the movie.

The true strength of 'Country Strong' is the music that is woven throughout the fabric of the story. The variety of country music sub-genres (from classic country to the current, dominant pop-style of country) are all great, and I consider myself a casual country music fan, at best. The real tragedy is that not all of the songs in the film are on the official soundtrack. Paltrow has at least three top-quality songs in the film, all of which she performs herself. She sounds like someone who has been performing country her entire life. Meester's "Words I Couldn't Say", which she also performs on her own, is potentially a #1 single for her. It's really that good. Overall, this might actually be an instance where the soundtrack will outlast the popularity of the movie it originates from.

'Country Strong' amounted to something of a predictable ending, but knowing the destination didn't make the journey any less worth taking for me. As I type this, Rotten Tomatoes critics have this film at 17%. I find this rating to be very unfair, and very harsh. This is an entertaining film that will satisfy the majority of those who spend their money to see it.
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80 of 85 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, a Good Movie About Country Music, January 8, 2011
This review is from: Country Strong (DVD)
I seem to be in a minority, but I thought this was a superb movie, a great start to 2011 (countering what Rebecca Murray said about the movie). Was it the greatest movie of all time? Not by a long shot, no. But it accomplished what it set out to do: it told a great story, showcased great performances both dramatically and musically.

While Paltrow may take first-billing, and while her musical numbers are phenomenal, to me it is Beau and Chiles (Hedlund and Meester) who this movie is really about.
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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved this movie, February 28, 2011
By 
Betty Stewart (Hopkinsville, Ky) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Country Strong [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
I really loved this movie. I went back and watched it again with my daughter and she liked it to. The music is great but so was the movie. It was about all 4 main people and how their lives were changed because of each other. It's a movie I plan to buy. I bought the cd after watching the movie. The music is really great.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best movie I've seen in a long time, January 17, 2011
This review is from: Country Strong (DVD)
I love music, and country music. I also love a lot of the actors and actresses in the movie so I went expecting a "Pure Country" or even a "Coal Miner's Daughter" kind of movie.

Instead I got a movie with some exceptional acting, great music, and an amazing story.

I will first make a comparrison:
Love and Other Drugs was similiar in that it deals with a lot of human element and complexities. However, that movie was so OVERLY sexual that it watered down the emotion. And while I love Anne Hathaway and thought she did some great acting I didn't like her character. In the end I didn't think he character developed and still felt like her character was very selfish and that they both were. It was a very co-dependent relationship.

Country Strong was so much more. It was what I wanted Love and Other drugs to be. (Spoiler Alert) You wont' find a happy ending here but the complex story of Kelly Canter won't leave my mind. Paltrow was a perfect pic for this character as she almost has a sadness in her eyes, a certain quality.

Kelly Canter is a famous celebrity who's lost her way in life. After losing a baby when she fell of stage during a concert (she tripped over a mic cord, but she was intoxicated) she goes to rehab where she stays for about a year. James Canter, her husband checks her out early from rehab to help her get her career back. Kelly'd not ready to leave rehab and a friend who works at the rehab and sings at local bars and dance halls comes on tour with her- Beau.

Kelly Canter is now KELLY CANTER. Her entire being is her "celebrity" and she's no longer herself anymore. All she really wants is for James to love her. She longs to escape the life she's living but when she tries to talk to James about this he refuses to see the real Kelly anymore.

There's so much pain between them, and you watch Kelly's life jump off the tracks and spiral out of control. It's very painful at times. James and Kelly have a complex relationship that's become more about business and more about KELLY CANTER the headliner than Kelly Canter the woman. Kelly continues to make bad choices and it's clear she's had a mental breakdown. Only Beau can see this and while he's in love with her all of her demons push him away.

Meanwhile Chiles Stanton (Leighton Meester who does a great job) is the pageant queen girl trying to break in to stardom. She turns out to be more complex than she seems on the surface and in the end Beau falls for her. She wants the limelight though and wants to be the next Kelly Canter. Beau gets a taste of it and decides it's not for him. He can see what fame has done to Kelly. How it steals every piece of you. He just loves music and wants to go back to singing in dance halls.

James Canter will push Kelly at any cost. His love for Kelly has become so entagled in his desire for her to suceed and be KELLY CANTER that he can't see how broken she is. "She use to be strong. I don't know when she became so fragile." he says to Beau.

There is such a struggle in this movie between two people who love each other and hurt each other in so many ways. It shows how complex a marriage can be. How complex the "celebrity" personality can be and how even those close to you can blur the lines between real and pretend.

You'll find hope at the end of the movie when two characters decide to leave that life behind. Unfortunately you'll also find pain and sadness, when sometimes it's just too late.

There is not a character in this movie that is not deeply complex. You're heart will break and bleed for them even as you watch them hurt each other and make avoidable mistakes. These characters too do selfish things to one another but what will stay with you is the pain that love can cause when it won't let go.
You'll see the intensity that is so hard to show between two people as you peel back the layers on James and Kelly's marriage.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Aan Awesome movie to watch on a lazy day, April 18, 2011
This review is from: Country Strong (DVD)
I watched this movie twice...it made me laugh...it made me think...it made me mad... and it made me cry. Who ever saw this and didn't cry when Kelly (Gwenyth) sang to Travis- I am in awe of you. This had great music and a good story line. It could have used a little more meat to the script as to all that happened to lead to the end, but it did what it set out to do - it entertained, it brought out a lot of different emotions and it made you hug your family a little closer. I do agree with everyone else, there was nothing wrong with the vocals, so the soundtrack being sung by other stars is both dissapointing and ridiculous.

This movie runs with the same feel as "The Thing Called Love" with River Phoenix and "Walk the line" with Joaquin Phoenix. If you liked them - you will like this. Grab a blanket and your tissues and roll film
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We loved this movie!,, January 9, 2011
By 
D. L. Cox (Calvert County, Maryland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Country Strong (DVD)
My 16 year old daughter and I went to see this movie...not really knowing a lot about it...we both loved it!! The main character isn't just Gwyneth...the lead guy Garrett Hedlund was just awesome in it! We actually want to go and see this again we enjoyed it so much!!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars FANTASTIC!, April 18, 2011
This review is from: Country Strong (DVD)
"That's how it's done, sugar"
You don't have to be a country music fan to love this movie. Great acting. Great music. Great cast. Very well done.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprised Me, April 17, 2011
This review is from: Country Strong (DVD)
I am not a huge fan of Country Music, that being said, I really liked the music. I was surprised at the quality of the singing of the supporting actor & actress. I might have to buy the CD. I think critics have been too critical of the actors performances. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. I rented the movie, and watched it three times. I was kind of surprised at what happened to the Kelly character. Usually I am pretty good at figuring movies out. All in all I thought it was very good.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The music in my ears trumps the movie in front of my eyes..., July 20, 2011
By 
Andrew Ellington (I'm kind of everywhere) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Country Strong (DVD)
I'm all for this revitalization of Gwyneth Paltrow's career. I adore her 90's work and find her recent stint on `Glee' as well as her comeback to film (and departure into music) to be wholly welcome and something I can't get enough of. Paltrow is a true talent; a shining star and I'm so happy that she's made her way back to us. While `Country Strong' as a film is very flawed, her performance within is noteworthy for its honesty and earnest quality.

I just wish she had been handed a better script.

`Country Strong' tells the story of wayward Kelly Canter; Grammy winning country star and public drunk. The film opens with Kelly in rehab sparking fires with Beau, an orderly who loves to sing and play his guitar. Kelly is ripped from rehab by her manager/husband who insists that she go back out on the road to rebuild her public figure after an `incident' in Dallas left her name tattered. At his wife's request, her husband James allows Beau to join her tour (not after some begrudging) as well as a former beauty queen named Chiles. On the road, relationships form and crumble under the pressure of fame and fortune and the true colors of those involved begin to come through. It is Kelly, though, who suffers the brunt as her troubles with drinking, not fully under control, begin to interfere with her comeback tour.

While the first half makes a tad more sense than the second, the second half isn't bogged down by the ridiculous dialog, so I'm kind of torn as to which half works the best. It's hard because if I were looking at this as a senseless summer blockbuster then I may react differently to the prose, but when you are this dark and manipulative in your themes then you kind of have to have a sliver of realism in order to back up your direction, and that is something that `Country Strong' just doesn't get. At its heart, it is trying to make a point that is too extreme.

Life isn't always this melancholy.

As a whole, `Country Strong' survives because of some real talented actors/singers who make the most of their scarcely developed characters in order to bring us something we want to continue watching. Paltrow is magnificent as Kelly, who is arguably the most fleshed out of the characters. She understands the shading needed to make Kelly feel alive, although the repetitive dynamics of the script dampen her chances to shine as brightly as she could have had her character been given more to work with. I've been impressed with Tim McGraw's performances in the past (I still stand behind my belief that he should have be Oscar nominated for `Friday Night Lights') and he does a commendable job here, although I don't think he layers James in a way that makes him come off as anything other than a creep. Garrett Hedlund is a little clichéd in his portrayal of Beau, but his vocal talent is undeniable, and he finds chemistry with both Paltrow and Meester that is delightful to watch. Speaking of Meester, I was really impressed with her spunky yet guarded portrayal of Chiles. She really made her feel three-dimensional. She also breathes a life into the film, a sort of jovial atmosphere that counteracts the films more bleak themes.

The ending, while on the outset anti-clichéd, is a tad predictable, but the actors sell it (for the most part). Still, the main highlight here is the music, all of which is kind of wonderful. The songs written for this film are beautiful, especially the big `Coming Home' number and the intimate `Timings Everything', which opens the closes the film perfectly. I think that Shana Feste has talent as a director and writer, but like her previous work (`The Greatest') she hasn't mastered developing her themes in a way that feel truly authentic. They feel like fabrications, like movies with a slight soap operatic twist that takes them out of the realm of `gritty, raw and real' and makes them feel somewhat fake. But, a total plus is the way she works with her actors, and with time I have faith that she can produce something truly noteworthy.

But if you do anything, buy the soundtrack!
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars surprisingly excellent...but a few questions, January 28, 2011
By 
Michaelene Gon "just Michaelene" (.Westerville Ohio United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Country Strong (DVD)
Ordinarily, NOT, a Gwyneth fan. But she does an outstanding job here.
Questions: what is the motivation of her husband/manager (Tim McGraw)

Garrett Hedlund we need more of in country music.

I wondered, but now know why Faith Hill was chosen for the audio CD of "give in To Me" A sultry delivery not captured bt Hedlund and Meester. I am, therefore retracting my original view, in critique of cd

What`exactly might the relationship be with the Paltrow and Hedlund characters? Intriguing...that last one.

Any ideas, anyone?

P.s. to movie go-ers: do yourselves a BIG favor, and remain through and past credits, hear TRace Adkins sing about The luck of time and place. It is a song on the cd....and no one does it like Trace
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Country Strong
Country Strong by Shana Feste (DVD - 2011)
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