Coming Home in “Country Strong”

The famous line ‘home is where the heart is’ has weathered through decades of change. From black and white television to colour, from printed books to digital and from letters to emails and messages on facebook. The significance of ‘home’ as people become more nomadic and mobile and alone. And so it is that to lose your heart is to lose your home.

Country Strong must be the most underrated movie of the year. Written and directed by Shana Feste is a movie about country singers. If you hate country music, you probably shouldn’t watch it. But if you are not averse to it, then watch it and let it tell you the story of how easy it is to lose your way. The lead character Kelly Canter is played by Gwyneth Palthrow who portrayed an alcoholic country singer super star’s fall from grace with a heartbreaking fragility. By contrast, the upcoming new country star Chiles Stanton, played by Leighton Meester of Gossip Girls fame, is the fresh face prelude performer before Kelly comes on stage. Both were vying to sing the song “Coming Home”. But who can sing this better unless it meant something to come home?

“It’s a four letter word

A place where you go to heal your heart

It’s an alter, it’s a shelter

One place you’re always welcome.

Where the memories will keep you company

Whenever you are alone.”

Part of the lyrics in “Coming Home”

These memories of laughter, joy, sadness and tears are there to remind us of life and people around us. If the home is where the heart is, then a welcoming home is where the heart matters. It’s a cliche but I guess true for most people, that someone to hug or to hold is what matters. And these are also the memories that keep hope alive for the home to mean something. The song continues:

“Well they say it’s where the heart is

And I guess the hardest part is

When your heart is broken

And you’re lost out in the great wide open

There ain’t nothing but blue sky now.”

So what happens if there are no good memories or enough to keep you going? What happens if they’ve ran their mileage and you have drawn out the last joy in them and what is left is regret or emptiness? That is the danger of losing one’s way to forget what matters and stop storing memories for the heart to go home to.

Someone talked about emotional anchoring recently. It never ceases to amaze me how strong the anchor of people I’ve met. They’ve got the the gigabytes size memories of love from family and friends that they carry with them everywhere they go. They form the invincible shield against whatever life brings. It is their shelter, their shield and their anchor whenever they need to retreat and rest and recover and find courage.

When you can say, “f**k this, I’m going home.” If you haven’t realise by now, it is a power that no one can take from you. This is power of coming home.

Country Strong examines this through Kelly. Sometimes showing life’s ugly side and sometimes, the sweetness of life. I think it’s all in the songs. Listen well.

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2 Responses to Coming Home in “Country Strong”

  1. Ed says:

    i totally agree. 22% on rotton tomatos is such a shame. the acting in this movie is extremely accomplished, especially by tim mcgraw and gwenyth paltrow. and the story, while some say is predictable, is beautifully told and doesnt dissapoint, with certain poinient parts of the movie really becoming emotional. And the soundtrack, well I never really liked much country music before, but I think its very beautiful. I hope the people involved in this movie know this and feel the same way

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hi Ed,
    Thanks for your comments. I totally agree. Check out the sound track, there are different sub branches of country music. Those in this movie are lovely. There are 2 albums, one with original singers and the other with the film actors. I prefer the 2nd. Hope you’ll like the music.

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