Solid Reviews For “Country Strong”

Solid reviews are coming in for Country Strong, which is already showing at the Carmike 20 in Franklin, Tenn. and is slated for a wide release on Friday, Jan. 7. Many critics are saying the movie is carried by strong performances by Gwyneth Paltrow and Tim McGraw.

The LA Times finds “down-home comfort” in the film despite its predictable “music-drenched melodrama” centered around the “roughhouse country music industry.” According to the review:

When the starting point is a world in which even the toughest guys wear their hearts on their sleeves, the trick for filmmakers is how to walk the line without getting stuck in the muck, and that is a problem the filmmaker hasn’t yet figured out

What helps elevate “Country Strong” when the music stops is the strength of the performances. It’s not easy to play opposite [Oscar winner Paltrow] but McGraw does a credible job. He is such an appealing guy on-screen, working an easy charm in a way that seems so effortless it’s turning him into Hollywood’s good old boy of choice (see “The Blind Side”). But the scene stealer is the Minnesota farmboy, Garrett Hedlund, who took up the guitar for the film and, despite an acting hot streak that includes “Tron: Legacy,” actually could quit his day job. His scruffy Trace Adkins-style baritone and kickback charisma on-stage makes Beau irresistible to more than just [Paltrow’s character] Kelly.

The Huffington Post says:

Paltrow easily delivers the best performance of her adult life, playing a woman who has many demons to battle. The strength to keep it together threatens to fall apart constantly, yet it never once veers into melodrama.

The acting performance aside, the surprising part is seeing Paltrow belt out tunes, play the guitar and strut on stage as if she was born and raised in the heartland.

McGraw will discuss the film on upcoming television appearances including the Late Show with David Letterman (1/4), Good Morning America (1/5), Late Night with Jimmy Fallon (1/5), Chelsea Lately (1/6) and The Martha Stewart Show (1/7). He returns to the road this spring on the Emotional Traffic Tour with special guests Luke Bryan and The Band Perry.

MORE

• See the L.A. Times picks for the best country music movies.

• Music videos below from the motion picture soundtrack:

McGraw and Paltrow perform “Me and Tennessee,” written by Paltrow’s husband Chris Martin of Coldplay.

Paltrow’s Yahoo exclusive performance of “Coming Home.” The song by Bob DiPiero, Tom Douglas, Hillary Lindsey, and Troy Verges is nominated for Best Original Song–Motion Picture at the Golden Globe® Awards, taking place on Sunday, January 16, 2011, airing on NBC from 8:00-11:00 p.m. (EST).

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Sarah Skates has worked in the music business for more than a decade and is a longtime contributor to MusicRow.

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