by Josephine Grahl
In Country Strong, which opened two weeks ago in the UK, Gwyneth Paltrow plays a self-destructive country music star struggling with alcoholism, who is pulled out of rehab by her manager-husband and forced to tour. So far, so clichéd. Country music films abound in scenes of alcoholism, breakdown and emotional dysfunction: from Robert Duvall’s alcoholic former star in Tender Mercies to Joaquin Phoenix’s Johnny Cash impersonation in Walk the Line. When, in Country Strong, Gwyneth Paltrow breaks down on stage, babbling about the stars and crying, it brings to mind Sissy Spacek as Loretta Lynn in Coal Miner’s Daughter and, Ronee Blakley as Barbara Jean in Nashville. But both Spacek and Blakley manage to convince as troubled stars: Gwyneth Paltrow is not remotely convincing as a country singer, let alone as a suicidal alcoholic.