Monday, April 25, 2011

Country Strong

I don't usually review movies I see at home, but I'm going to make an exception.


I recognize the irony inherent in this review. Usually, I complain about predictable, happily-every-after stories. You will not find happily ever after in Country Strong and I'm going to complain anyway.

From the previews, I was expecting a somewhat typical story of redemption, but this movie is much darker than the trailers lead you to believe. You know going in that Kelly Canter is in rehab after some sort of public failing. What you don't know is it was falling off the edge of the stage during one of her shows with a BAC of 1.9 while five month pregnant that landed Kelly in rehab.
Whap, out of no where you're smacked in the face with a dead baby. Whoa, not expecting that. And they've made it a little harder to sympathize with Kelly, especially since you never get any insight into Kelly's demons.

As the movie progresses the rest of it pretty much follows the previews. Kelly is having an affair with a young singer/aide at the rehab center, Beau, she gets pulled out of rehab too soon by her manager/husband, James, and semi-upstaged, personally and professionally by a pretty young, up-and-comer, Chiles. None of the stories ever gets full developed although they do make some attempts to explore Kelly's marriage, her relationship with Beau and Beau's relationship with Chiles. Overall, though, the movie feels like a mildly entertaining missed opportunity.

First show, she gets drunk after someone sends her a doll made up to look like a dead baby (creepy, sad and disturbing). She manages to go on and then fall apart on stage. Second show she gets so drunk before she can't even go on at all. Third show, the return to Dallas, the site of her fall, she goes on sober and kicks ass. Kelly's comeback is a triumph, celebration all the way around, or so you think. But wait, as Kelly goes into her dressing room she locks the door behind her, giving just an inkling that all is not as it appears. While everyone else is celebrating Kelly overdoses on pills and alcohol and commits suicide. WHAT??? Back up hoss...

Yep, cut to scene of Tim McGraw who plays Kelly's husband, collapsed on the floor of the hospital hallway and then you see a funeral procession.

I think I understand now why the movie never really took off. You can't promote a movie as a tale of redemption and knock people sideways. First, you have the heroine you want people to root for do something as heinous as drinking herself stupid while pregnant. Then, out of no where, again without really understanding the causes, have her kill herself the night she actually gets it right.

Right before the end, I made a comment that I was enjoying the movie more than I expected to, which I retracted ten minutes later during the shot of Kelly's funeral.

I do like to be surprised by creative twists in movies. I don't enjoy getting blindsided.

1 comment:

Heather said...

Whoa! Usually previews kill all surprise. Didn't see any of that coming!