A lot of people claim to hate country music. That's fair, we don't all have to like everything. But I guarantee those people like a country artist- Johnny Cash, early Elvis, Patsy Cline, Waylon Jennings. There's a song or two on their iPod for sure. Growing up in Texas you would think I would have a greater appreciation for country than say, someone from New York. That isn't the case. I was raised by Yankees and as such, country music was never really played in the house. However, I couldn't escape the above artists and others growing up. It's the new wave of country that annoys me. I don't like it's pop sound, as if it's trying to convince us it's something it isn't. Be country! I love bluegrass and the new alt-folk scene that's cropped up across the country. I like the music in this film because it's the perfect blend of both worlds- a little bit country, a little bit rock and roll. (I think I totally lose some point for quoting a Donny & Marie song though). Beau's songs are the most honest and classic. Young ingenue Chiles Stanton (Leighton Meester) is the current Carrie Underwood type. She's got a surprisingly good voice, but she doesn't really blossom until she meets Beau. My biggest complaint with her was that I didn't believe the growth of the character in so short a time span. Worse, I can't tell if it's the writing or her acting that caused this reaction.
The biggest problem with this movie is the story. I appreciate when a film drops us into the middle of the story, but you still have to flesh out the characters. If all roads lead to Dallas, as they do in this movie, then that scene must pop, must resonate, must be recognized as the pinnacle of the film. That a sold out show at the American Airlines Center can feel flat is a real feat. Hedlund rescues the movie time and again with his Honest Beau routine. I'm excited for his career and hope he continues to make interesting choices.
I'm glad I saw this movie, it was a lot better than expected. However, it made me long for better crafted (country) music movies like "The Thing Called Love" or "Nashville". If you have or had any interest, rent it. If you never cared, you may be surprised but you're more likely going to like something else.