Wild Rose is like a country 8 Mile by way of Glasgow. It’s an inspirational, gritty musical about the struggles of following your dream versus the responsibilities of real life featuring one of the year’s best performances.
Rose-Lynn Harlan (Jessie Buckley) is a talented, charismatic, aspiring country music singer. Fresh out of prison and reunited with her son and daughter, all she wants is to get out of Glasgow and make it as a country singer in Nashville. Rose’s mother Marion (Julie Walters), on the other hand, has had enough of Rose’s reckless lifestyle and musical dreams and forces Rose to take responsibility for her life. Forced to take strict responsibility, Rose gets a cleaning job and discovers her dreams may not be over after all.
Jessie Buckley gives a star-making performance as Rose-Lynn. There is an authenticity here that I have yet to see in any performance in 2019. Buckley gives us a character that is so passionate about making it in Nashville, she is blinded by the thing that really matter to her, like her family and her home, and must grow-up right before our eyes. Buckley carries the film, never making us hate Rose for her decisions, yet having us root for even when she is at her worst. This is one of the best performances of the year and I’ll be damned if I see someone light up the screen like Buckley in 2019.
One of the most striking aspects of the film is how director Tom Harper frames the film. When Rose was in prison, her dreams were halted and she was trapped behind bars because of her personal life. That feeling of being trapped and her dream being slowed down because of her personal life stays with her when she is released and we see it. Harper, along with cinematographer George Steel and production designer Lucy Spink, show us two worlds and two attitudes of Rose’s life. When Rose is at the bar singing, or being supported by the woman she nanny’s for, the world is bigger and brighter, showing an optimism of keeping her dream alive. However, when Rose is at her apartment and has to be a mother to her kids and being scolded at by her mother, her world is smaller and darker, showing a pessimism of her dream and the feeling that it isn’t going to happen. There are also a number of jail-like things surrounding Rose in these scenes, whether they’re pillars at a train station or the pattern on the wall in her apartment or the cellblock-esque way her apartment complex is laid out, whenever Rose is in the real world and is having to deal with the real world issues, she is still confined and still trapped like she was in prison. This detail adds so much to Rose as a character, giving us a sense of how she is really feeling without telling us. Coupling this with Buckley’s performance makes for some powerful cinema.
Led by a star-is-born performance by Jessie Buckley, excellent directing, some great musical numbers, and a personal story, Wild Rose is a musical underdog story that you can’t help but love.
Follow Kevflix on Twitter and Instagram, @kevflix, and on Facebook by searching Kevflix.