As a blonde who came of age in the 1990's I have a slight obsession with Gwyneth Paltrow.  She's the icy beauty you love to hate, but can't get enough of.

My fellow 90's blondes Leah F. Jackson and Karly Field. and I have been wanting to see this movie since it came out.  Unf, scheduling conflicts abounded and we were unable to see it together.  I finally caved and redboxed it Friday night.  The following may contain spoilers so be warned!

Basically this is a movie about Kelly Canter, an alcoholic country music superstar, that is being forced by those around her to leave rehab early and do a short, 3 city redemption tour (dubbed "Encore").   Her husband and manager, James (Tim McGraw) seems to be the main driving force behind the encore, removing her from rehab a month early and putting her directly in front of an arena full of people.  While in rehab she meets an aspiring singer named Beau (Garret Headlund) who she hooks up with and demands that he go on tour with her as an opening act.  James has been grooming his own up an comer, Chiles (Leighton Meester) a pageant type who Beau dubs "Country Barbie".  The movie focuses on this 3 city tour showing with the requisite affairs, breakdowns, tender moments of truth and something about a bird.  After coming apart on stage in the first show, not showing due to drunken bender in the second, Kelly finally does her star thing and hits a homer for the final show in Dallas.  Then she kills herself (which I did not see coming until right before it happened).  Blah Blah Blah.  Love and fame are not compatible.  Blah Blah Blah.

Here are my issues with this movie:

 1.  Why is Kelly and alcoholic?  Kelly and James's marriage is a big focus of the movie.  There are many many references to how happy and in love they were in "the beginning".  However, we don't know if she's always been a mess or if something happened (the stress of fame, affairs, some tragedy in her childhood, etc) that was the catalyst for her breakdown.  The movie opens with James taking her out of her second stint in rehab so clearly this wasn't a new problem, but we never find out what was really going on with her.

2.  The James/Chiles story.  Esp. early on, the movie hints that Chiles and James are having an affair.  However, there is never anything to really confirm or deny this.  The longer the movie goes on the more it seems like they aren't.  It was confusing and it really bugged me.

3.  If you are depending on an alcoholic meal ticket, have more handlers.  James convinces Beau to join the tour (oh yeah, he had to talk Beau into joining the tour bc Beau DOESN'T CARE about success in the music business.  He just wants to play good music for people that will appreciate it.  Uh huh.) under the guise of "taking care of Kelly".  Basically he wants Beau to keep her occupied and away from the bottle during the tour.  James hon, if your main goal is making money off your performer wife and the number one thing you need to do is keep her sober enough to perform, in addition to inviting her lover on tour, you need to do the following:
    a.  Hire (yes HIRE) additional handlers to watch her so she is never alone and thus can never slip a sip.  That's what they did with Robert Downey Jr. for a while.  It seemed to work ok for them.
    b.  Have a NO BOOZE rule on tour.  I mean, if you are the big rich important Country stars you claim to be, you should be able to keep alcohol away from the alcoholic.
I mean, I have no experience with this kind of thing, but I can figure out that much.

4.  Does James actually love Kelly or not?  So, James doesn't really care about Kelly's well being (since he took her out of rehab early) and apparently doesn't care if she is sleeping with some other guy (bc really, it seemed like James thought it was better for her to be screwing around with Beau instead of drinking bc at least then she'd be sober enough to perform), but then when Beau admits he was sleeping with Kelly, James punches him.  Kelly tells James she got "one of those Brazilian Bikini waxes" one night and he tells her he just took an Ambien (I laughed out loud all by myself at that). Before the last performance, he is about to open up about how much he loved her when they first met (and Kelly stops him presumably to table the discussion), but then immediately after the concert he doesn't go talk to her or look for her or anything, thus allowing her to overdose on pills and then have enough tim to let them actually work into her system so her life cannot be saved.  I guess they USED to be in love, but then they grew apart or lost sight of whatever, etc. etc. etc.  It would have been more clear cut if the presumed then not presumed affair with Chiles was more defined.

This movie was supposed to be a vehicle for a 2nd best actress nod for Gwyneth, and you may remember the reviews were not good.  I wasn't expecting a lot.  Gwyn's performance was fine, not great, but fine.  Her southern accent never wavered and was pretty good.  She was def. not afraid to let the mascara run all over her face if need be.  The script was thin and the character development was non existent.

The best part of the movie was Garret Heglund's performance.  He was really dynamic on screen.  Apparently, he was in Tron: Legacy, but a cursory review on IMDB revealed he also played Perecles in Troy.  For those of you that don't remember was Brad Pitt's young "cousin" that died when he dressed up as Achilles and tried to attack Troy.  Then Achilles (Brad) went bananas and killed everyone.  That was him.  IN Troy he was all pretty boy.  In Country Strong, he was gruff around the edges hottie and it was quite a difference.

Anyone else have any thoughts.