I am not a movie critic and won’t pretend to be, but I do not understand why the reviews for the movie “Country Strong” were so negative. The movie has everything in it from alcoholism, mental illness, co-dependency, ageism, and grief and loss giving the audience a bird’s eye view of the dysfunction that goes on in the alcoholic family system. It depicts once again that alcoholism is a family disease and does not just effect the alcoholic. It also puts in perspective that when underlying issues are not resolved, a relapse is to be expected.
Gwyneth Paltrow plays the story of country music star Kelly Canter, as she battles with alcoholism and mental illness. She appears to be struggling with the issues of aging comparing herself to the young and up and coming country star Chiles Stanton and feelings of jealousy brought on by her husband’s fascination with the young singer.
She leaves rehab too early to return to her career, which unfortunately is an all too familiar painful reality in Hollywood. She apparently winded up in rehab after losing a baby during an accident at one of her concerts in one of her drinking episodes. It appears that this issue has not been resolved between her and husband, Tim McGraw, and she is once again thrown back out in the lime light of a concert tour leaving rehab way before she is ready. Again, this illustrates the importance that rehab is most effective the longer you stay in a program and at best, remaining in treatment at least 30 days. I have seen way too often clients leaving rehab or psychotherapy without touching on the layers of pathology underneath the drinking and using.
Perhaps the movie did not go into each character thoroughly, however, it does reveal the importance of a solid recovery plan. It illustrates the difficulty of sustaining sobriety with relapse inevitable, when underlying psychological issues are not dealt with. The reviewers were mostly disappointed by the ending, but in my line of work, the ending is one of three endings that can result from un-treated alcoholism….death, jails, or institutions.
Sherry Gaba, LCSW, is a Psychotherapist and Life and Recovery Coach in private practice and on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew on VH1 and the author of “The Law of Sobriety: Attracting Positive Energy for a Powerful Recovery.” Sherry can be reached at [email protected] to learn more about her coaching packages, up-coming teleseminars, speaking engagements, and workshops.