Country Strong? More like Country Weak! (Review)

It took me about one hour to figure out what Country Strong truly is. But it was worth it: Country Strong is like Baywatch with the bouncy babes replaced by melodramatic country singers.

It’s remarkable how well Country Strong incorporates Baywatch’s main raison d’être of filling screen time with gorgeous but absolutely useless filler material. Just like the famous beach series more than half of the runtime of that movie actually is filled with such filler. Worst of all is that the rest of the movie not only is unconnected because of that but also contains several plots fighting for attention during the few remaining non-filler minutes.

It doesn’t take ten minutes to notice the fight of the various plots:

Country Strong starts with Beau Hutton on a stage, singing country music as the credits roll. My first impression was: of course, it’s about that guy. After the gig is over, he goes to his work in a hospital to male nurse Kelly Canter, a country diva that entered hospital after her drinking problem got out of hand, caused by a past drama. Okay, my impression slightly changed: it’s about the relationship between those two country singers.  Then Canter’s husband enters the room and force talks her back on stage for a comeback tour. In those minutes Country Strong drastically change my impression that it’s about Canter’s tour and her way to redemption. Unsurprisingly, Beau Hutton is nowhere to be found in those scenes. A little bit later yet another character enters the stage:  Chiles Stanton, a young beauty queen striving for country fame. In those moments Country Strong gives the impression it’s about the relationship between Beau Hutton and Chiles Stanton, while the drama of the diva forms some sort of background setting.

I’m still wondering how writer-director Shana Feste got away with creating basically a one hour long movie with that many subplots and relationships. Did nobody tell her that this idea is bad? Unfortunately I’d say that Feste would’ve continued with her creation of a disaster anyway because everything else in this movie proves that she never read a book about screenwriting.

Country Strong is so full of clichés and unintentional comedy thanks to its horrible dialogue that I started to wonder if this is a practical joke. There’s a baby quail in a box for no apparent reason, a cute little boy with cancer and a beauty queen who wants to be taken seriously. Cliché? Check, check and check.

Then, of course, there’s Gwyneth Paltrow who goes from one alcoholic disaster to the next, uttering cheesy lines like “Don’t be afraid to fall in love, it’s the only thing that matters in life”, although she has a deep trauma regarding the death of her unborn baby. Other times her husband tells her “The first time I heard you sing – I thought that it must be what angels sound like; thought I died and gone to heaven”. The laughter of the audience and me still lingers in my ears.

The last thing that makes Country Strong such a bad movie is absurd character motivations. Let’s take Gwyneth Paltrow’s character as an example. Her baby dies because of her alcoholic problems. Okay, that’s some bad stuff. But why does she seem so perfectly well during rehab in the beginning of the movie? When someone is emotionally destroyed one doesn’t normally sprawl in bed while composing music with a male nurse. There was no indication of a big trauma whatsoever. So what is it? What drives her back into the depths of alcoholism? Does she want to forget? Does she hate herself? Or is it about her career? Her tour? Or is it the music that in a way leads to her trauma? The lack of being loved? Which is it? Country Strong gives no answer whatsoever about this crucial stuff.

Sheesh.

Instead of focusing so much time on cheesy country music, Shane Feste should’ve wasted her time in fleshing out the story and the characters. But since she didn’t do it there’s only one thing left to say: there is no redeeming quality in this movie with the exception of one or two good tracks.

Rating
Baywatch for Country Lovers. Not worth your time.
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Comments

  • 100% agree, only I think I may have used a Lifetime movie comparison over Baywatch. This movie brought the pain…

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