Film Review: Wild Rose (2018)

A Brit-flick with a difference as Wild Rose serves up country music via Glasgow, with great performances from Jessie Buckley and Julie Walters

“No-one wants to see a convicted criminal up there.
‘Johnny Cash was a convicted criminal , you ball-bag’.”

There’s a fair bit of the archetypal Brit-flick to Wild Rose, written by Nicole Taylor and directed by Tom Harper, but enough of a distinct flavour to make it very much its own thing. And how could it not be, featuring a Glaswegian ex-con of a leading lady desperate to make it to Nashville and sing in the same room as the rather marvellous Kacey Musgraves.

Jessie Buckley plays Rose-Lynn, just having served 12 months inside and trying to put her life and her dreams back together. She has a prodigious voice and wants to make it as a country singer but she also has two kids, whom her mother has been looking her after, to think of. Possibilities rise up in the form of Susannah, the wealthy woman whose house Rose-Lynn cleans, but when you wear an electronic tag, dreams have to sit next to reality.

Harper’s film emerges as something gently beautiful and really quite stirring. Buckley plays all the notes of the conflicted singer perfectly, a mixture of confidence and crushing vulnerability, struggling to re-establish her new priorities in real-time as she tries to balance the pursuit of fame with the responsibilities of being a single-parent familiy.

Walters is also superb as her mother Marion, a worn but deeply empathetic figure painted with the subtlest of strokes by an actor rarely afforded the chance to be this understated. And Sophie Okonedo does well as the kindly Susannah, something more than a simple do-gooder as she propels Rose-Lynn towards the Grand Ole Opry. Jack Arnold’s score sings with authenticity too, a blend of country covers and original songs that Buckley sings emotively, more than Nancy could ever have dreamed of…!

Photo: Entone Group

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