Like a pop-country ballad that’s more Twain than twang, Shana Feste’s Country Strong
is a glossy, superficial, manipulative melodrama powered by counterfeit emotions. Gwyneth Paltrow stars as alcoholic singer Kelly Canter, who’s sprung early from rehab by her husband-manager (Tim McGraw) for a comeback tour. This displeases the noble country crooner (Garrett Hedlund) with whom she’s been having an affair, so he turns his lovin’ eyes to a young, pretty wannabe (Leighton Meester) when they all hit the road together. There’s no romantic chemistry to speak of, Kelly’s booze battle is one big bottle-smashing cliche and Feste doesn’t have anything new or insightful to say about showbiz. And the songs suck. But hey, if you ever wanted to see a Gwyneth Paltrow concert, this is your movie.