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Wild Rose (2019)
Director: Tom Harper
Screenwriter: Nicole Taylor
Starring: Jessie Buckley, Julie Walters, Sophie Okonedo, Jamie Sives, Craig Parkinson, James Harkness
Jessie Buckley’s Rose-Lynn wishes to be ‘made into an angel to be flown from “Glasgee” (Glasgow)’ in Wild Rose, the British A Star Is Born with more heart and rhythm in its little guitar playing fingers than its American counterpart’s entire 134 minute run-time – the tale of following the Yellow Brick Road to the promise-land of stardom in Nashville featuring all the hope of your typical rags-to-riches story while maintaining a firm grasp on its darker and much more gritty British roots.
Jessie Buckley anchors Wild Rose as the foul-mouthed, down on her luck, endearing ex-con with a big dream of visiting Nashville to become a Country star, while Julie Walters’ sensible, family-centred mother beautifully balances the dream-like aspects of the protagonist’s hopes and aspirations with a more pragmatic and often deflating stance that builds a tangible dynamic to their relationship; one that is played to the perfect note by the two deep and dynamic performances at its centre, each of which bring to life the subtle work written on the page.
Buckley’s history as a stage performer and talented musician gifts her character’s apparently inhuman talent the voice it deserves, each song only endearing us to her character further as Buckley not only provides some stunning vocals but also a strong emotional insight into Rose-Lynn through musical performance. In Wild Rose Jessie Buckley seems like an actress confident of her ability to pull off the musical side of the piece, her focus therefore aimed at the picture’s more dramatic elements, the results being of the highest class and talent, the actress hitting the target at every single opportunity. Wild Rose is in many ways her film, and as phenomenal as Julie Walters is, Buckley simply owns the screen – she makes it impossible to not get behind her character’s run at success, even despite her troubled history, juvenile antics and foul language.
This is not to discount the work of the central creative team behind the scenes however, as Nicole Taylor’s screenplay and Tom Harper’s direction combine to build an environment in which you immediately want to see Rose-Lynn succeed, the pair also braving the pressures of feature filmmaking (to which both are fairly new) to avoid the tropes of over-explaining, Wild Rose quickly establishing that it is a film in which we should come to expect that a lot will be left unsaid; a movie in which actions can and will speak louder than words.
Like in past iterations of A Star Is Born, the sentiment of seeing someone truly grounded in reality come to succeed at such an out-of-this-world craft is a strong pull for Wild Rose, yet it is one that Taylor and Harper use to mask a much more sincere and relatable emotional connection, this undeniable toe-tapper of a country love-letter also, then, holding a heavy emotional weight, the mother-daughter relationship at its core doing as much as the music to bring your mind back to the story over and over again.
Ultimately, Wild Rose is a picture that will leave you with hope in your heart and the familiar three chords (and the truth) of country music ringing through your head, a likely adoration for Buckley’s seemingly limitless talent at creating profound characters and performing astounding songs now tattooed into your memory. There may be no Yellow Brick Road running through Glasgow, but Wild Rose offers one stronger than stone. A movie of the year…