By Sandra Kraisirideja
“Country Strong” had two things going for it in my mind: Gwyneth Paltrow and Tim McGraw.
Paltrow had a terrific guest appearance on “Glee” to prove to fans that she really could sign and it looked like she was having a blast. McGraw was endearing in “The Blind Side” as Sandra Bullock’s husband and it seemed he would be able to produce the same charismatic performance in “Country Strong.”
Paltrow lived up to her guest appearance on “Glee” and does a fine job in “Country Strong.” It’s fun to see her take on new challenges as a performer. The script is decent and gives her a bit to chew on, but its the musical numbers that really help her stand out.
Unfortunately McGraw doesn’t fair as well because his character is so unlikeable. Writer-director Shana Feste should have seen that making McGraw’s character unsympathetic meant it would be harder for audiences to know who to support.
Paltrow plays a wildly successful country singer who is struggling with alcoholism who comes across as unsupported and lonely, especially when McGraw, who play’s Paltrow’s husband, seems to only care about getting her back on the road for three sold-out shows. With every cold, stern look McGraw puts forth it becomes more and more clear why Paltrow’s character would drink. Their relationship is the weakest part of the movie.
The budding romance between the other two main characters, played by TV stars Leighton Meester and Garrett Hedlund, is slightly more interesting although painfully predictable. Once again music saves the movie as Meester and Hedlund display enormous talent as singers and performers.
I’d say a film that has music as its focus is a success if one of the first things I want to do afterward is go on iTunes to check out the soundtrack. That’s exactly what I did when I got home. “Country Strong” will be a hit with audiences but not with critics.