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Country Strong


Stars: Gwyneth Paltrow, Garrett Hedlund, Tim McGraw, Leighton Meester

Director: Shana Feste

The music is strong and there's a lot of it, but there's otherwise too much misery in this familiar yarn about a music superstar sinking into a sea of pills and alcohol, but out of rehab for a comeback tour. In fact, Country Weak could be a better description of most of the characters here.

Paltrow, looking distinctly early middle-aged, is Kelly, a Judy Garland of the country music scene, Hedlund the protegé who opens her show, McGraw (a real-life country star who hardly sings a note here) her manager and estranged husband, and newcomer Meester the nervous vocalist who gains strength when McGraw puts her on the bill.

Paltrow, Hedlund and Meester all have terrific country-style singing voices, and help make the familiar parable palatable in between its gloom, doom and inevitable tragic ending. All the songs are good.

David Quinlan

USA 2010. UK Distributor: Sony (Screen Gems). Colour by deluxe.
118 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 1, Swearing 0.

Review date: 20 Mar 2011