Published January 06, 2011
Maybe if director Shana Feste had tried to do a cornpone version of “All About Eve,” “Country Strong” might have made some sense.
But as it is, this limp and silly film has little or nothing to do with actual human behavior – even the kind associated with the world of country-western music.
Nor does it have much to do with country-pop, as it’s become: What passes for country music these days is just soft rock with a strong beat and cowboy boots. Or so it seems from “Country Strong.”
There’s very little that seems real about this story of a country star, Kelly Canter (Gwyneth Paltrow), with a drinking problem, whose husband/manager James (Tim McGraw) yanks her out of rehab a month early to go back on the road. Talk about tough love.
He’s got a protégé – a former beauty queen named Chiles (played by “Gossip Girl” star Leighton Meester) – who he enlists to open the concerts for his wife. But hubby doesn’t have a sexual interest in Chiles – or Kelly (or business, for that matter).
Kelly gets him to add her rehab buddy Beau (Garrett Hedlund of “Tron: Legacy”), an orderly who’s also a would-be country singer, to the tour lineup. Never mind that no major star would go on a big tour with two nobodies without record deals or product to push or a record company to support them. They all hit the road – and when Kelly starts drinking again, look out.
To its credit, “Country Strong” never goes where you expect. To its detriment, it never really goes anywhere at all.
More From Marshall Fine: