Self-destructive Nashville legend Kelly Canter (Gwyneth Paltrow) is plucked from rehab to embark on a disastrous stadium tour wracked by vodka binges, pill-popping and an adulterous fling with an aspiring singer. Tim McGraw plays her indifferent husband-manager while Chiles Stanton is the pageant queen turned singer who Kelly sees as a threat to her career and her affair with young Beau (Garrett Hedlund). Everything you expect in a story that could have been penned by Dolly Parton.
A breathless TV reporter ponders – just after a triumphant concert return for country legend Kelly Canter - how long she will stay sober for this time.
Well, about twenty minutes. Or however long it takes to prise the top off a bottle of vodka and defeat the child-lock on a bottle of pills.
Gwyneth Paltrow plays the denim’n’cheesecloth superstar wracked by guilt after the death of her unborn child while under the influence who finds herself in a Lindsay Lohan-style downward spiral.
She doesn’t get much help from her cold fish manager-husband James (McGraw), an emotionally-crippled suit whose pat solution to his troubled wife’s problems is “fish and chips and then a hot tub.”
Relief for Kelly comes from rehab clinic orderly Beau (Tron: Legacy’s Hedlund), an aspiring C&W singer who the raddled warbler manages to get onto the bill of her comeback stadium tour.
Clouding the waters further still is ex-pageant queen Chiles (Meester), a gauche but talented singer who idolises Kelly (and Jesus Christ) while also holding a torch for young Beau.
Director Shana Feste’s sudsy romance glories in every unlikely dramatic twist and turn of the sort of C&W song that might be titled I Still Miss You But My Aim’s Getting Better.
The tour bus has the feel of a wife-swapping party on wheels where even a dodgy promoter has a go on Gwynnie and there’s more slamming hotel doors than a Brian Rix farce.
Infidelities are either tolerated or instantly forgotten, one minute James is slugging Beau the next they’re buddies and even Paltrow’s promoter pal unashamedly turns up to press the flesh (this time hands) with James after a triumphant gig.
That said, the songs – glossy, commercial affairs rather than down’n’dirty honky tonk numbers – have appeal if you’re partial to sanitised Shania Twain-style country.
Ultimately, it comes across as a Nashville-set soap opera – think Emmerdale with pedal-steel guitars.