WARNING—Spoiler—this reveals the plot and ending of the movie, though I can’t imagine a good writer wouldn't see it coming.
Either the characterization in this movie was really well done or really poorly done, or I’m missed a bunch of dialogue explaining motivations, ‘cause I can’t figure it out.
I saw Country Strong, staring Tim McGraw and Gwyneth Paltrow last night and found it a surprisingly interesting movie. Usually I have little patience and find little to admire in movies featuring self-destructive alcoholic stars who implode, however there’s something about the characters in this movie that struck me differently.
Something keeps noodling around in my head, bothering me. I wonder if it might be some terrific characterization (or poorly done characterization) or perhaps I missed critical details due to the accented dialogue mumbled throughout the entire movie, straining this midwestern ear. Perhaps you can help me.
We’re a society who likes to place blame, though I suppose it shouldn’t matter to me as a person . . . all three of the main characters, James, Kelly and Beau seemed to suffer throughout the movie and that should have generated plenty of sympathy, but who was the antagonist?
On the surface, the husband, James, seems to be the obvious villain—or even Kelly herself, yet I suspect it was Fame that was supposed to be the villain.
Did manager, James, really love his super-star wife, Kelly? Did Kelly love James? I think they did love each other and that love was destroyed by her fame and the alcohol . . . yet why? Why did she start drinking? How did the fame drive Kelly to drink and start whoring around? It can’t be the loss of their baby; she had a problem with alcohol before she lost their baby. From the average person’s perspective, they had it all. Money and fame. No worries. So what went wrong????
I think James loved Kelly. Yet he took her out of rehab early—though she appeared hesitant, but willing. Did Kelly leave rehab early to please her husband, to gain access to alcohol, or ‘cause she missed the adulation of the crowds?
And what was with the chick? First of all . . . I didn’t buy that Kelly had been successfully nurturing the quail chick. In my experience . . . chicks are really hard to keep alive. It probably would have been more believable to me if they’d chosen another type of baby animal for both Kelly and James to bond to.
I’m assuming the chick was supposed to be the replacement “baby” for Kelly and James to nurture after the loss of their baby. That James indulged Kelly and brought the chick along on tour and cared for it personally spoke to his love for his wife and his grief over the loss of their baby—at least that’s how it seemed to me. I don’t think he did it simply to placate and manipulate Kelly. I missed what happened to the chick in the end. Where’d the chick go? Did it die or did they let it go?
And the fact that James cared enough to punch Beau when Beau confirmed that he wasn’t Kelly’s “sponsor”, in essence admitting that he and Kelly were having an affair, showed me that James cared enough to be jealous. James loved his wife.
James watched Kelly a lot, looking for glimpses of the “old” well, Kelly. Looking for glimpses of the woman he fell in love with. He was clearly disgusted by her drinking and seemed puzzled by her fragility; she’d always been so strong. He didn’t seem to know where it’d all gone wrong either.
I think James loved Kelly, but he didn’t know how to help her and he was jealous of the way Beau was bonding to Kelly in rehab, so perhaps he took her out of rehab and on tour to separate them? He didn’t want Beau to tour with them. It was Chiles he wanted to open for Kelly, but accepted Beau ‘cause both Chiles and Kelly appeared to need Beau.
But James made it Beau’s job to keep Kelly sober instead of watching over his wife himself. Why? That seemed like a stupid mistake. And James wouldn’t make love to Kelly when she reached out to him . . . but since he knew she was sleeping around . . . and they hadn’t worked through that . . . I guess it’s unfair to expect him to pretend everything was all right and make love to her just because she reached out to him for . . . comfort? For forgiveness? For reassurance?
What about Kelly? She appears to be the cliché star ruined by fame. She was an addict who whored around and lost her baby, however . . . did she leave rehab to please her husband? Because she’d been unfaithful –and continued to be so, throughout the movie, yet I got a sense that she wanted Jame’s forgiveness, yet wasn’t strong enough to make them sit down and talk it out and see if he could forgive her. See if they had a future together.
I got the feeling that Kelly felt all she could give James (all he wanted from her) was her career—a good performance.A come-back. Kelly never appeared to dislike her husband. She didn’t sleep around to get even with him. She was jealous of Chiles—yet Chiles and James didn’t appear to ever be inappropriate.
Kelly was a fragile soul, yet she managed to pull-it together to please the little boy with leukemia, giving us (and James) a glimpse of the old, irresistible woman Kelly had been. We see here, the woman James fell in love with. This scene gave us all hope. What a lovely, poignant moment. Then Kelly falls apart again.
It was heartbreaking when Kelly slept with the promoter to get him to allow her to finish her tour in Dallas when he’d cancelled it.
In the end, Kelly gave all she could to that last performance. Did she do it for James so they’d go out on a high note? Did she do it to redeem herself? Both reasons?
And another thing I found interesting is where they started the story. One might be tempted to think that the inciting incident was her falling off stage and loosing the baby, but they chose to make that backstory. Do you think it was the right spot to start this story?
On the surface this seems like another simple “star ruined by fame”story, yet I find only Chiles and Beau and their romance simple. I’m really intrigued and saddened by James and Kelly’s story and annoyed to be left with so many questions.
Anybody have some answers for me?