There is a performance by Jessie Buckley of such competence, and beauty at the heart of WILD ROSE that it almost stops any further critical faculties working!
Not only does she act with tremendous force in this story of a working class girl from Glasgow desperate to get to Nashville, but she sings with the glorious voice that many of us recognized when she first performed as one of the contestants on Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 2008 reality show which was choosing an actress/singer to play Nancy in a new stage production of Oliver. I thought she was the best, but in fact she came second!
We meet 23-year-old Rose-Lynn (Jessie Buckley) coming out of prison and soon she is singing country on a stage at Glasgow’s Grand Old Opry, still with her tag on her ankle, which denotes a 7 pm curfew. Single mother of two with no money and no job, Rose-Lynn relies on her mother, Marion (Julie Walters) to support her and look after the kids. Tattooed on her arm is ‘Three chords and the truth,’ which tells everyone what country music is about. She wears her white cowboy boots and outfit proudly and is striving hard to get to Nashville, the home of country music.
Director Tom Harper highlights the social differences between the have and have-nots when Rose-Lynn goes to work as a cleaner for a wealthy woman, Susannah (Sophie Okinado). Susannah tries to help the cleaner with the golden voice, but Rose-Lynn hasn’t told her about her kids and past criminal life and difficulties arise.
Rose-Lynn is also being pushed by her mother to take responsibility for her own children. Marion warns her daughter that the children are beginning to suffer from her absences. Rose-Lynn is torn between her children and the life of a singer in Nashville that she has been dreaming about her whole life.
There’s a very good solid performance by Walters, who shows us the love of a mother for her daughter and grandkids. She understands Rose-Lynn’s burning ambition to sing in Nashville, but knows, too, that her daughter’s children need their mother to be with them. And we see Okenado as the rich woman who sees her cleaner’s shining talent and wants to develop it, not only for Rose-Lynn’s sake but also because it will fill a hole in her own life. The two women form a realistic background showing what Rose-Lynn is trying to escape from and to.
The music throughout the film is excellent, played by talented musicians and Tom Harper shows us the grimy side of Glasgow contrasted with the bright lights and sunshine of Nashville..
But it is Buckley’s terrific voice and her full-on dramatic acting which make this an unmissable film.