Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Country Strong *

Director: Shana Feste
Cast: Gwyneth Paltrow, Garrett Hedlund, Leighton Meester
Tim McGraw, Marshall Chapman

Calling a bad movie "the devil's work" is one of the easiest, most economic quips one can use to describe a cinematic work's lacking qualities. Yet the levels of mediocrity and plain incoherence in Country Strong are such, that perhaps not even the devil would be willing to take credit for it.
The movie feels essentially as if you grabbed Nashville, squeezed all the poignancy and humanity out of it, and reworked it as a parody of Dynasty.
The story is so filled with stereotypes and thinly shaped characters that at no moment are you unaware that you're watching a movie, and a very bad one at it.
Paltrow stars as alcoholic country singer Kelly Canter, who checks out of rehab early and sets out on a cross country tour. Why would someone sign an artist straight out of rehab, for what seems like a multi million dollar tour? Who knows? The film seems to be content as long as there's a nice musical intermission to make us forget our troubles (and those of the characters).
Joining Kelly in her journey are two rising stars: bad boy Beau Hutton (Hedlund) and beauty queen Chiles Stanton (Meester), yes, that's what they're called...
All of them are such thinly disguised stereotypes that sometimes you wonder what's the point of the entire film.
We know that Kelly will be jealous of Chiles because she's younger and because she gets all the boys' attention. We know that Beau will be a sexual symbol who exudes masculinity and punches people to get his points across.
What we never really know though, is why are they even in the company of Kelly. All along we're supposed to think of her as a superstar and her supporting characters aren't even famous in their hometowns.
Director Feste seems to have forgotten that movies need more than cute concepts, beautiful artists and self contempt to actually work.
Her characters are so shallow that not only do you wonder how are we supposed to believe they are artists, we start by wondering how do they even stand up from the screenplay.
For all of its propensity to disappoint, the one thing Country Strong gets right is the music, Paltrow may never seem non-New England-ish enough to convince us she's the yee-haw ready Canter but she belts out the tunes like a pro.
Even GOOP dissenters might agree that what she lacks in conviction in this movie, she more than makes up with her Dixie Chick-ness...and that's perhaps all that can be rescued from a movie that's not even sure it wants to help itself.


Luke said...

I was wondering if you were ever going to subject yourself to this, and risk hating Gwyn in a film... No holds barred, though, I see. Do you regret it now that it's over?? Will she ever be the same to you??

Jose said...

Ah well, my love for Gwyn is as big and undying as the sea (to paraphrase the Bard) but her movie choices are baffling!
She rarely works and when she does a big role, it's this?
I think she should stick to supporting roles where she's shone lately ("Two Lovers", "Iron Man"...)

Castor said...

The trailer made this look terrible. So cringe-worthy I wanted to run out of the movie theater and miss my movie!

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

But the music is so good? That duet "Me & Tennessee" is brilliant. The film is so terrible. Sigh.