A country take on tried-and-true narrative and tour de force performance.
IMDB Synopsis: A troubled young Glaswegian woman dreams of becoming a Nashville country star.
There’s no shortage of star-is-born narratives, most recently with last fall’s A Star Is Born garnering massive critical and box office success. Wild Rose is much smaller and intimate film. The film centers on our young Glaswegian protagonist, Rose-Lynn (Jessie Buckley) who dreams of becoming a country music star in Nashville, at any cost. When we meet her, she’s being let out of prison and find she’s spent the better part of her adult life as the singer for the house band at the Glasgow Grand Ole Opry, her ticket to the big time.
Old habits die hard as Rose-Lynn quickly falls back into her old life of drinking, partying, and generally being a terrible mom to her two young children—who we learn she needs as much as they need her. But as the movie chugs along, every interaction and situation presented to Rose-Lynn, she uses it as a shortcut to stardom or a way to dump responsibility… to get herself to Nashville to become a country superstar. She takes an upper class matriarch’s (Sophie Okonedo) goodwill too far. She neglects her adorable pre-teen children. She disappoints her mother (an incredible Julie Walters) over and over. And when she does make it to Nashville, a lesser movie would turn to the familiar: Small town girl with a big dream and an incredible set of pipes… you’re almost waiting for her to be “discovered.” But the movie subverts our expectations in the best way possible.
It’s undeniable that Rose-Lynn has loads of talent, but remarkably, is the transformation the character makes that makes the film special. After re-committing her to children, to getting a decent job, and to life itself, she realizes that things she’s been running from—her family, Glasgow—are what make her, well, her. And she’s special.
By film’s end we see Rose-Lynn in her element singing an original song “Glasgow (No Place Like Home)” that encapsulates her journey in the film. That there are no easy path to Nashville, that she had to leave her family to realize she needs them, and that being Scottish is actually her greatest source of pride. The film leaves us with the indelible imprint of Rose-Lynn pouring her heart out for Glasglow in front of a hometown crowd.
Highlights: The unofficial theme song (written by Mary Steenburgen!).t
MVP: Jessie Buckley. The range the young actor displays is stunning. And just the fact she’s from Ireland and has to act with a convincing Glaswegian accent is proof enough. And of course, her singing.
Should you see it: Yes. Unless you hate tour de force performances from young and exciting actors. 8/10.
Studio: Neon // Original release date: April 12, 2019