Loaded with denim-coated drama, Shana Feste's 'Country Strong' means well -- maybe too well -- as it chronicles the attempted resurrection of a maligned music career. It's a romantic rectangle fused with a showbiz melodrama, crammed full of cheers, jeers, sobs and songs and generally grounded by four performances that try, but can't always defeat, the cliches at hand.

Country superstar Kelly Canter (Gwyneth Paltrow) has six Grammys and seven platinum records to her name, but she's also saddled with a much-publicized drinking problem. That isn't going to stop her husband/manager, James (Tim McGraw), from prematurely yanking her out of rehab and sending her on a three-stop career-recovery tour across the great state of Texas -- a tour which ominously ends in Dallas. Kelly makes a plea for rehab employee/fledgling crooner Beau (Garrett Hedlund) to tag along; James, insistent on would-be beauty queen Chiles (Leighton Meester), recruits both to serve as opening acts. Also, there's a baby bird that Kelly's caring for (named after Loretta Lynn, naturally), but that's not important right now.
categories Reviews, Cinematical