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DVD Review: Country Strong

April 12, 2011

Country Strong – A Sony Pictures’ Release

DVD Release Date: April 12th, 2010

Rated PG for coarse language and substance abuse

Running time: 117 minutes


Shana Feste (dir.)


Shana Feste (writer)


Michael Brook (music)


Gwyneth Paltrow as Kelly Canter

Tim McGraw as James Canter

Garrett Hedlund as Beau Hutton

Leaighton Meester as Chiles Stanton


Our reviews below:


Country Strong DVD Review By John C.

**1/2 (out of 4)

Kelly Canter (Gwyneth Paltrow) is a washed-up country singer taken out of rehab a month too soon by her husband and manager, James (Tim McGraw).  Continuing her downhill spiral in the midst of a 3-city comeback tour, she finds herself romantically involved with her opening act, Beau (Tron: Legacy‘s Garrett Hedlund), and her career is about to be overshadowed by the young Chiles Stanton (Leighton Meester).


The excellent, Oscar-winning Crazy Heart this is not.  The story of Country Strong is pure backstage melodrama, and the talented cast never exceeds the level of what we can expect.  It also runs a little long at 117-minutes.  But the strong musical performances consistently save the largely uneven film from falling completely apart, and make it worthy of a mild recommendation for country music fans.


The Blu-ray includes an original ending, deleted scenes, an extended performance with Paltrow as well as several music videos.


Country Strong DVD Review By Erin V.

**1/2 (out of 4)

In Country Strong, Gwenyth Paltrow plays Kelly Canter, a country singer just out of rehab trying to reclaim her fame through a three concert series in Texas.  Her manager/husband James (Tim McGraw) and she are having problems in their relationship, and Kelly turns to younger country singer Beau Hutton (Garrett Hedlund) for affection and friendship.  When James picks young country starlet Chiles Stanton (Leighton Meester), to open Kelly’s comeback show, Kelly can’t help feeling jealous and past her prime.  Dealing with emotional issues as well as her drinking problem, Kelly tries to be strong enough to play the concert and prove she is strong enough to come home to the stage at least one last time…


Paltrow, Hedlund, and Meester all do well singing their own songs.  As for Tim McGraw, this is not really a singing role for him, save for the end credits.  This being said, it is worth a rental for the musical performances, but the story is only serviceable in its lead-up to the last act.  If the running length was fifteen minutes shorter, and there was better development for the characters earlier on, this potentially could have moved from average to really good.


Country Strong DVD Review By Nicole

**1/2 (out of 4)

Back in early 2009, a really good movie about a down on his luck alcoholic country star was released.  That film was Crazy Heart, and it won Jeff Bridges an Oscar for Best Actor.  A year later, another film about an alcoholic country star came out.  In Country Strong, a depressed and alcoholic country singer, Kelly Canter (Gwyneth Paltrow) is still traumatized after her addiction resulted in a tragedy a year earlier.  Kelly’s personal demons have brought her to become more distant from her husband and manager, James (Tim McGraw) and have encouraged an affair with up and coming star, Beau (Tron: Legacy’s Garret Hedlind).  Meanwhile, Beau has taken an interest in newcomer Chiles Stanton (Leighton Meester).


Country Strong is somewhat slow-moving and borders on the melodramatic.  At 117 minutes, it feels a little long.  The film’s ending, which is a shocker, should have had more lead-up.  However, the story is decent enough to hold one’s attention, and what really makes Country Strong worth seeing is the music.  While McGraw doesn’t sing until the end credits, Paltrow, Hedlund and Meester all have beautiful voices that carry the film.  The songs are well written, making this worth a rental.  Watch the movie, buy the soundtrack.


Country Strong DVD Review By Maureen

**1/2 (out of 4)

There’s nothing like Nashville and good ole country music to bring to life tales of love and loss, tragedy and triumph.  Country Strong tries really hard to tell the story of a down on her luck country music star, Kelly Canter (Gwyneth Paltrow) and her attempts at a musical comeback.  Unfortunately the story gets bogged down in melodrama.


The story centres around four main characters – Kelly’s husband/manager James (Tim McGraw), charming young singer/songwriter Beau (Garrett Hedlund), a young beauty queen/singer, Chiles (Leighton Meester) and of course star, Kelly.  There are romantic triangles, personal tragedies and insecurities and lots of country music.  The acting is adequate but it’s the musical performances that make Country Strong watchable.  Paltrow, Hedlund and Meester all have decent voices for country music.  McGraw doesn’t sing in the movie itself but provides one of the songs for the end credits.


If you like country music then this is an entertaining enough film.  The acting and the story in between the song sets are just background to the country music performances.  Country Strong is worth a rental if you are a fan of country music.


Country Strong DVD Review By Tony

**1/2 (out of 4)

Country Strong is a musical film filled with country rather than show tunes.  Former star Kelly Canter (Gwyneth Paltrow) is pulled prematurely out of rehab for a Texas comeback tour by her manager/husband James (Tim McGraw), against the advice of her “sponsor” and rising star Beau Hutton (Garrett Hedlund). Kelly wants Beau to open her show while James has his eye on beauty queen Chiles Stanton (Leighton Meester), a serviceable singer with stage fright. Beau proves useful on the tour, both as a popular opening act who can pull Chiles out on stage for duets and then solos, and as a source of intimate support for both female co-stars.


Country Strong was a bit long at over two hours but it has a lot of tunes to hold it together, particularly when the songs describe personal events shown in flashback. Hedlund handles most of the singing, a nice bonus to his acting career reminiscent of Colin Farrell in Crazy Heart. Despite top billing, Paltrow only gets to really sing toward the end of the film, though it is worth the wait. Meanwhile in a rather unsympathetic role, the real “hat act” McGraw doesn’t sing a note. Though not entirely satisfying as a film, Country Strong has enough going for it as a rental for casual country music fans.


Consensus: Although the story of Country Strong never rises above the level of backstage melodrama and it runs a little long at 117-minutes, country music fans are sure to enjoy the strong musical performances by the cast. **1/2 (Out of 4)

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