Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Movie Review: Wild Rose

Wild Rose *** ½ / *****
Directed by: Tom Harper.
Written by: Nicole Taylor.
Starring: Jessie Buckley (Rose-Lynn), Maureen Carr (Eileen), James Harkness (Elliot), Julie Walters (Marion), Daisy Littlefield (Wynonna), Louise Mccarthy (Amanda), Janey Godley (Jackie), Craig Parkinson (Alan), Doreen McGillivray (Mary), Sophie Okonedo (Susannah), Ryan Kerr (Rory), Nicole Kerr (Nell), Jamie Sives (Sam), Mark Hagen (Mark Hagen), Bob Harris (Bob Harris), Ashley McBryde (Ashley McBryde), Vanya Eadie (Kirsty), Robin Daugherty (Wyatt), Aly MacRae (Colin), Phil Cunningham (Ivor), Stuart Nisbet (Stuart), Ben Nicholls (Eric), Neil MacColl (Neill), Chris Vatalaro (Roy), Andy May (Andy), Kacey Musgraves (Guitar & Vocal).
Jessie Buckley is a movie star who is just waiting for that movie that can truly serve as her breakthrough. For those who saw the little seen British thriller Beast already knew that – she was wonderful as the seemingly naïve girl who may be dating a serial killer, who may be more dangerous than he is. And those who saw HBO’s Chernobyl were undoubtedly moved by her performance – where she basically stood in for all the people out there who had to watch their spouses died because of that tragedy (and makes a sacrifice she doesn’t know she is making). She is also the reason to see Wild Rose – a film about a young Scottish woman, just out of jail, with two kids already, their father(s) not in the picture, whose dream is to become a country star. It is a clichéd, yet inspiring drama, in which her character learns what is really important.
From the opening scenes of Wild Rose, Buckley is a force of nature. We see her leaving jail with a whoop of good cheer, before we see her meeting up with her boyfriend for a quickie in a field, and heading to the bar that was her old haunt – the place she worked and sang, just thinking she’ll step right back in. Finally, she’ll go see her mom, Marion (Julie Walters) and her two kids. Of course, things don’t work quite the way she thinks they will. She gets a job cleaning and looking after a couple of kids for Susannah (Sophie Okonedo) – who believes in Rose-Lynn, even if Rose-Lynn hasn’t exactly been honest with her about her past. Rose is convinced the only thing she has to do to become a star is to get people to hear her sing. No, she doesn’t play an instrument, or write her own songs – but boy, can she sing.
To be honest, you’ve seen Wild Rose before. This is the type of inspiring U.K. import that two decades ago (maybe even just one) would have played at art house theaters for weeks or months at a time, and become an audience hit. Think of something like The Full Monty or Billy Elliot to get an idea of what the film is going for. And the film basically hits all those notes well. The film is inspiring and funny – and full of great music – but certainly isn’t blind to the economic realities that the characters exist under. Yes, Rose-Lynn is naïve about her career – and doesn’t really have a plan in order to succeed – but she wins you over with her energy and sheer force of will. And yet, you also realize fairly early that Rose-Lynn has two children that she has abandoned while in prison – and isn’t quite sure how to raise now that she’s out. They love her – and she loves them – but she keeps letting them down. It may be heartbreaking to hear her son call out for his Granny when he gets hurt – but you cannot blame him. Granny has always been there- Mommy has not.
The film is aided by a fine supporting cast as well. It helps to have actors the caliber of Walters and Okonedo to help give more weight to what are really fairly one note characters. They hold their own against Buckley though – and give the film a necessary counterweight. But the film really does belong to Buckley – who owns it from beginning to end. When we get to that final scene, you will be moved. Rose is finally on the right path – and she may just end up with what she wants.  

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