Review: Country Strong

Thanks for checking out our Country Strong Review

Genre: Music Drama
Directed by: Shana Feste
Staring: Garrett Hedlund, Tim McGraw, Gwyneth Paltrow and Leighton Meester
Released: January 7, 2011


Soon after a rising young singer-songwriter (Hedlund) gets involved with a fallen, emotionally unstable country star (Paltrow), the pair embarks on a career resurrection tour helmed by her husband/manager (McGraw) and featuring a beauty-queen-turned-singer (Meester). Between concerts, romantic entanglements and old demons threaten to derail them all.


The thing I enjoyed about this movie as a whole was that there was no obvious badguy. These four people and their intertwining goals and problems make for a mess of circumstance. It was refreshing to see a movie where no one was cackling and twirling his handlebar mustache intent on destroying these people. What they each have to over come is each other.

Paltrow plays damaged goods so well. When she is strong, she still has that layer of insecurity and instability, when she falls apart shes out. But they don’t make her out to be useless. She shows the struggle and it works. And she can SING. Loved her performances.

Garrett Hedlund as well surprised me as he was familiar but not at all like his previous roles. And he has a good singing voice as well (Hedlund performed his own music). And Leighton Meester appropriately disattaches herself from her Gossip Girl role, playing an insecure perky cute young model-turned-singer. She plays her role, but I was hoping for more from her. Certainly easy to look at.


Tim McGraw is trying hard as an actor, but I just found him to be flat here. It was a bold move to have the only real country singer in the cast not playing a singer at all, but he was the weak link here.

And I wont get into this bit about the bird. It is a great symbolism that represents the state of recovery that Paltrow’s Kelly is in, but they shove it up your nose in the beginning and then forget about it just as fast. It seems like someone had an artsy idea that got cut out in editing.

And while it was expected, the climax of the film doesn’t have the same depth of Triumph. There is no defining moment of overcoming, but rather a mediocre wide grinned moment of “this is where it starts to get better”. I guess that’s better than an unrealistic “overnight superstar comeback” moment, but I was kind of hoping for one.


Fun movie for the performances and personalities, and enough depth to make it stand on its own outside of that too, but it didn’t knock my socks off. I liked it enough that I had to dig a little to find obvious fault, but not a big win for me.

I give Country Strong a 6.5 out of 10

Comment with Facebook

4 thoughts on “Review: Country Strong

  1. My issue with Country Strong was that I had a hard time being convinced that Gwyneth Paltrow was a southern girl turned country music star. She comes off to me (I am a native Tennessean) as a girl from the Hamptons, not a southern girl. However, she did have a sort of charm that she always brings to her roles. As for the story line, it was very predictable and cliche. The bit with the bird was neglected and should have had more significance. I personally did not like the movie, but my friends who went with me who typically enjoy movies that are on the lighter side with happy(ish) endings LOVED it and bought the soundtrack immediately afterwards. It is a good movie to turn to for country music fans looking for a movie with lots of musical numbers.The thing that made me immediately turned off about the movie were the fake accents. They were not believable. Also, at the end at the final concert, it was said to have been set in Dallas and it was completely obvious that it was in Nashville at the Bridgestone Arena (Gaylord, Somet… whatever it is called nowadays).

    I like what you had to say about there being no obvious villain. It is a nice break to have something good to see in every character, no matter how damaged they are.

Leave a Reply