Country Strong: A Life-Affirming Tale about Forgiveness and Finding Peace

Country Strong is much more than a country musical: it’s a heartbreaking tale of broken relationships, addiction, and the price of fame. Here’s why you you should stream it even if you aren’t a fan of country music…

Country Strong (2010): Directed by Shana Feste; running-time 117mins.; starring Gwyneth Paltrow (Iron Man), Tim McGraw, Leighton Meester (Gossip Girl), Garrett Hedlund (Tron Legacy).

What’s it about? Country star Kelly Canter (Paltrow) is pulled out of rehab by her husband-manager James (legendary country artist Tim McGraw), who thinks that her last shot at a comeback is to go on tour. They are joined by former beauty queen Chiles Stanton (Meester) and Kelly’s special friend Beau (Hedlund). Unfortunately, it soon becomes clear that Kelly’s demons have got a firmer grip on her than anyone imagined…

What’s it really about? Trying to find peace and forgiveness – from others and yourself.

Pick if:

  • You’re looking for a quiet film to watch by yourself and reflect on
  • You’re feeling sad or melancholic: the film will play to your current mood
  • You like country music
  • You like Nashville
  • You’re a fan of Leighton Meester, who manages to convince the audience that her character Chiles, a former pageant queen and Taylor Swift knock-off, is more than just a “dumb beauty queen”. In playing Chiles, Meester elegantly walks the line between starry-eyed country girl and ambitious young woman trying to make a better life for herself than her parents started her out in. In so doing, she gives her enough depth to make her lovable, to us and to Hedlund’s character Beau.
  • You want to see Gwyneth Paltrow at her best: despite my personal reservations about the actress, she plays Kelly with such heartbreaking fragility it simply blew me away
  • You’re interested in stories about the dark side of fame
  • You’re into guys in cowboy hats and plaid shirts/ girls in cowboy boots and cute dresses
  • You’re open to a tasteful story about addiction
  • You’re fascinated by “All about Eve” stories, i.e. stories about young artists trying to follow in the footsteps of their idols and the latter feeling threatened by this younger version of themselves

Most memorable scene: In an attempt to repair her image, Kelly visits a little boy suffering from Leukemia. As she performs a song for him from scratch and starts dancing with him and his classmates, she looks blissfully happy for the first time.

Most memorable quote: “Waylan said it best when he sang to Willy: if you see me getting smaller, I’m leaving, don’t be grieving, just gotta get away from here. If you see me getting smaller, don’t worry, and no hurry, I’ve got the right to disappear.” – Kelly Canter

Magic Music Moment: On the last day of tour, Kelly finally pulls through and gives the crowd one hell of a show, leaving everyone, including James, Beau, and Chiles mesmerized.

Where can I watch? Country Strong is available for streaming on Netflix UK and Canada, Amazon, Maxdome, iTunes, and Google Play.

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