Glaswegian Rose-Lynn Harlan (Jessie Buckley) is out on parole after doing time. She is reunited with her two (reluctant) kids and her disapproving mother, Marion (Julie Waters) and tries to get her life in order. Mostly, though, she dreams of being a star at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee in “Wild Rose."
Laura's Review: B
Just released from a Glasgow prison for having thrown a bag of heroin over the wall of another one, twenty-three year-old Rose-Lynn Harlan ("Beast's" Jessie Buckley) is itching to get back to her dream of becoming a country singer. She's been performing with a band at Glasgow's own Grand Ole Opry, but aspires to Nashville's. But her mother, Marion (Julie Walters), who's been caring for her daughter's eight year-old Wynonna (Daisy Littlefield) and five year-old Lyle (Adam Mitchell), thinks it is well beyond time for the young woman to settle down and take responsibility in "Wild Rose." There have been so many movies about people striving to achieve their dreams, but Glaswegian writer Nicole Taylor finds new angles in her first feature screenplay that go beyond the novelty of a country singer in Scotland. Firstly it is about that conflict between parental responsibilities and chasing a dream. Secondly, it is about two generations of mothers and daughters trying to forge a connection. Thirdly, it is about setting oneself in the environment where one's talents will truly shine. Director Tom Harper catches lightning in a bottle with his decision to cast Buckley, who appeared in his 2016 BBC production of 'War & Peace,' the young Irish actress running up and down emotional scales while crooning country classics. Buckley's performance soars partially because she's not afraid to portray unlikable behavior. The young woman who leaves prison in a fringed jacket, white cowboy boots and an ankle bracelet (she's to remain home between the hours of 7 p.m. and 7 a.m.) doesn't immediately race to see her kids, but stops at boyfriend Elliott's (James Harkness), shocking his mother by wrapping herself around his just-out-of-the-shower nudity (it's never made clear if Elliott is the father of her children, his presence fleeting and casual). She's barely at her mother's when she's ready to head out. 'Where are you goin' all done up like a fish supper?' asks Lyle (in one of Taylor's many charming Glaswegianisms). She isn't the conquering heroine she expects to be back at the Grand Ole Opry, her sense of entitlement clashing with management. Marion suggests she replace a friend whose arthritis is demanding she quit her job as a cleaner and so Rose-Lynn interviews with Susannah (Sophie Okonedo), a woman who lives in a gated stone manse with her husband Sam (Jamie Sives) and two young children of her own, omitting much of her history. We see her on the job, shamelessly helping herself to top shelf whisky, belting out songs to the music coming through the headphones which cancel out the roar of her vacuum but which we see as fantastical musicians scattered about the house. She's startled by the arrival of Susannah's two from school. Later, Susannah expresses interest, her kids having raved about their new 'day woman's' singing. Rose-Lynn cheekily suggests her new boss fund a trip to Nashville, something she could afford by merely switching from her bottled water to tap. Susannah's taken aback, but not put off, pulling in favors to connect Rose-Lynn with BBC Radio's country expert Bob Harris (who plays himself). Meanwhile, Marion's eased up a bit, impressed with how Rose-Lynn has settled herself and her kids into a new apartment, Wynonna and Lyle cautiously opening up to their ma, but when Susannah presents yet another opportunity to advance her alternate career, the stars in Rose-Lynn's eyes will blind her to her most basic maternal obligations. Over and over we will watch Rose-Lynn do the wrong thing, yet Buckley keeps us invested in her quest for 'three chords and the truth' and a third act twist analyzes a crucial difference between Marion and Rose-Lynn, one which Marion recognizes when her daughter toes Marion's preferred line. This is a film that really earns its ending. The music is wonderful, Buckley's closing song, 'Glasgow (No Place Like Home),' (written by Mary Steenburgen(!), Caitlyn Smith and Kate York) a beautiful, emotional finale. Grade:
Robin's Review: B-
This is not the rags-to-riches story that I expected, a la “A Star Is Born.” Instead, it is more a rags-to-nicer-rags tale of wild child Rose-Lynn, the possessor of a superior singing voice who dreams of stardom, but must, in the end, face the reality and responsibility of life and family. Jessie Buckley is the almost total focus of the story, written by Nicole Taylor and directed by Tom Harper, about having dreams. Rose’s dream is to be a country music star at the home of country music – Nashville. And, as the story plays out, I guessed where the filmmakers were going with this tale. My guess was wrong. Grounded more in reality than fantasy, “Wild Rose” is set in working-class Glasgow. As Rose pulls on her cowboy boots over her ankle monitors, you know that she has a problematic past. Then, you meet her kids and her mother and the vibe is, immediately, that Rose is a screw up and they are holding their judgment on her. Then, Rose goes to Glasgow’s own Grand Ole Opry, but she is less than welcome, being a con and all. Rose is lucky to have the help of others, including Susannah (Sophie Okonedo), the too-good-to-be-real owner of a posh home who hires Rose as a cleaner and, once she hears her employee’s fantastic voice, decides to help her achieve her dream. Of course, Rose is a screw-up and screws up her chance. But, she gets another and I will leave it at that. Jessie Buckley gives her character her own personality and, despite her life of bad decisions, you root for Rose – especially once she sings, which is the real draw to “Wild Rose.” The several songs that pepper the story are all well done and showcase Rose’s remarkable voice. Supporting cast are not given much chance to flesh out but Julie Waters, as mom and grand mom, gets her moments. It is a feel good story that does not exactly go where expected.