The Review at a Glance: ( max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Screen Gems- 2010
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 117 minutes
Genre: Drama, Music
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Audio Format(s): English, French, Portuguese DTS-HD MA 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Starring: Garrett Hedlund, Tim McGraw, Leighton Meester, Gwyneth Paltrow
Directed by: Shana Feste
Music by: Michael Brook
Written by: Shana Feste
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: April 12, 2011
"It doesn't matter where you've been as long as you come back strong."
Soon after a rising young singer-songwriter (Garrett Hedlund) gets involved with a fallen, emotionally unstable country star (Gwyneth Paltrow), the pair embark on a career resurrection tour helmed by her husband/manager (Tim McGraw) and featuring a beauty queen-turned-singer (Leighton Meester). Between concerts, romantic entanglements and old demons threaten to derail them all.
I really really didn't want to have to say what I am about to say. I actually enjoyed 'Country Strong'. Ill be the first to admit it really isn't a very good flm and some of the dialogue is accidentally hilarious, including whoppers like when Gwyneth Paltrow says "I got one of those Brazilian bikini waxes," and Tim McGraw replies "I just took an Ambien." It was meant to be deep and show the state of their relationship, but me, I just laughed at most of the drama here.
Speaking of drama, this movie had it all. Kelly Canter (Gwenyth Paltrow, Iron Man) is an aging alcoholic super-star who left rehab early to go on a comeback tour. Her relationship is strained with her Husband-Manager (Tim McGraw, Friday Night Lights), who has chosen a young unknown girl, Chiles Stanton (Leighton Meester, Gossip Girl) to open the tour. Of course he has the hots for this beauty queen turned wanna be singer. If thats not enough...wait for it...wait for it...While in rehab, Kelly has been having a little affair with Beau Hutton (Garrett Hedlund, Tron: Legacy), who is a local country singer, playing small bars as a passion, not concerned about fame. Kelly gets him added to the tour and Beau ends up falling for Chiles.
Are you taking notes?
Then for good measure we learn that before her rehab stint, Kelly had lost her baby late in pregnancy due to her drunkenly falling down on-stage at a Dallas concert. This blow is a weight she and her husband cant get over, and neither can some extremest in the public who send her a care package of a bloodied baby-doll with "baby killer" written on it.
Still with me?? Unfortunately Writer/Director Shana Feste didn't quite follow it all too well either. I think the story was perfectly laid out in her head, but the ball was dropped, as all of this drama never had the proper time to fully develop, lacked a sense of urgency, and seemed swept under the rug for brevity's sake.
I did start by saying how hard it is for me to admit I liked 'Country Strong', especially with its over-blown, soap-operatic plot and country music (this cowboy is not a fan). Somehow through its drama induced stupor, 'Country Strong' had an hosest charm. Gwenyth scores a home run with this stellar performance, possibly the best I have seen here. She has a great voice and sang her songs, as did the rest of the cast. It's the cast had me caring for the characters, making me wish they had more time to flesh this love triangle out (with 4 is it a love square??), but at almost two hours, they were already pushing it.
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements involving alcohol abuse and some sexual content.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
I really enjoyed Sony's A/V presentation with this release. The music sounded great, hi-hats and cymbal high end were crisp and articulate, but never tiny. The low end was accurate and tight, giving things a nice punchy feel. Surrounds seemed to liven up as crowd applause during concert scenes, but then were almost absent. Dialogue and vocals were always easy to understand, in moments of drama as well as song. The video portion had outstanding black levels with lucid details in shadows. I saw no discrepancies in colors, any video noise or compression flaws. The image had a healthy dose of celluloid grain which added to its highly detailed 1080p encode.
- (HD) Deleted Scenes
- (HD) Original Ending
- (HD) Featurettes
- (HD) Music Videos
- (HD) "Shake That Thing" - Extended Performance
- (HD) Trailers: How Do You Know, Burlesque, Soul Surfer, The Tourist
'Country Strong' was saved by Gwyneth Paltrows superlative performance, saving this unsure film, about unsure people. The music was surprisingly good, and that is a coming from someone who is typically annoyed by country music. Sony packs this Blu-ray release with a few worthy featurettes as well as its usual top-tier A/V presentation. I recommend a rental to interested parties, and a purchase to fans of the film theatrically.
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Reference Review System:
Marantz SR5005 Receiver
Sony PS3 Slim Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Artison Portrait LCR and Artison LRS Surround Speakers
Martin Logan Dynamo 500 Subwoofer