I remember that I ruled out having any interest in seeing this movie when I saw the trailer in the theaters, as I'm not a country music fan. However, I just happened to run across it when it came on one of our premium movie channels, and I decided to give it a shot. First off, I'll offer that the "country" music in the movie is done - in my opinion - in a style that is at least half-way toward pop music, allowing it to appeal to those who aren't country music fans. From a marketing perspective, this is pure genius - I absolutely love the soundtrack of songs played in the movie (side note: the music in the movie is spread out over TWO sound track CDs, sold separately, and all the songs on those CDs that are NOT in the movie are truly, purely country music). As for the movie, wow - it blew me away - it was entertaining with the music, but has a serious and dark element to it as well.
A few words about the cast. I won't comment on the characters, so as to not give any of the plot away, but I will discuss the actors/actresses. Tim McGraw - it's really hard to not like Tim - he just has a natural charisma about him, no matter what kind of person the character he plays is. Gwyneth Paltrow - the movie's main character - she's tremendously talented, as her many accolades attest to, and SHE SINGS - no voice-overs or lip synching in this movie!!! Leighton Meester - I would consider her the converse of Gwyneth in this movie, in that Gwyneth is a great actress who can sign well, Leighton is a very good singer who can act well. I really like Leighton in this movie; she got to flex her acting skills more in the movie than any other in which I've seen her, especially the ability to show vulnerability in a very convincing way. Garrett Hedlund - in my humble opinion, Garrett stole the show! He can not only act well (also showing genuine vulnerability), he can sing country music as well as anybody out there. (As I watched the movie the first time, I wondered whose voice Garrett was lip synching over, only to learn that he was actually doing the singing himself!) Apart from the solo's in the movie, he and Leighton did a duet of the first half of Garth Brooks' Friends in Low Places, which I really, really like (no disrespect to Garth - he's a legend - but his version is a bit two twangy for me in how he sings it). Unfortunately, this song does not appear on either of the two soundtracks; despite that, this movie is a treasure trove of great songs.
One bit of warning: this is not a glitz at the top of show business, rah rah, feel-good type of movie. It has some really good acting and very good singing/music in it, and the plot moves very well. However, at its core, it is a serious movie that reflects on some of life's greatest joys and most painful realities.
In sum, I loved this movie - one of my all-time favorites. If you get it, I hope you will enjoy it as well!