Arts & Leisure

Movie review: Wild Rose

Jessie Buckley stars in “Wild Rose” (2018).

Wild Rose — Running Time: 1:41 — Rating: R
How can a young woman capture us with an impossible dream? “Wild Rose” does just that by joining the inspired abilities of a singer/actor, a writer, and a director in creating on-screen magic. Actor Jessie Buckley becomes Rose-Lynn, a young mother with a beautiful voice and gut level determination. She lives a simple family life in Glasgow with her family and without any path to her dream of becoming a country singer in Nashville, Tenn.
Rose-Lynn hates earning her living by cleaning the house of Susannah, a beautiful woman who sees the talent in the young singer and becomes an enabler. Rose-Lynn’s children are being raised by their grandmother and her separation from them, necessary as it might be to her career, is a heartbreaker for all around her as well as for us in the audience. Her son fights her; her daughter stares in resentment, and disappointment spreads in the audience.
Though painting the portrait of this single-minded young singer goes on too long, it does hammer home the depth of her dream along with the flip side of the hurt to her family. It’s a long lead-in that does its job. Local success is not what Rose-Lynn wants and, with help from Susannah, she heads for Nashville.
That’s enough revelation from me about a movie that surprises us with the unexpected in the best of ways. We are grateful the kids have Rose-Lynn’s fine mother (Julie Walters) and her big supporter Susannah (Sophie Okonedo) to run the home front. At this point the movie bursts into her inevitable success in Nashville and it’s a terrific ride. The country music and her voice so perfectly suited to it are a genuine pleasure for the audience.
Is that all? Hardly. We’re in for a terrific windup as the now big-time country singer explores her success. She has done what she always wanted to do. What happens next is a surprise that is explored as carefully as the initial down phase was. We watch Rose-Lynn’s reactions to her deserved Nashville success along with the fine character traits that were planted long ago by her mother. The unexpected windup is all we could hope for and it is handed to us gradually and with startling originality.
The strength of this story is built by Buckley’s startling creation of Rose-Lynn along with the lovely performance by Walters as her mother. The gut plot was handed to these two gifted actors by writer Nicole Taylor and director Tom Harper.
Because I can’t resist a personal P.S., I add that as newly-weds living in Washington, my husband and I used to drive on weekends to Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium where the featured player was a rising young singer named Loretta Lynn. The Ryman was wrapped in cultural magic. I wasn’t the only one in that audience who was brought to tears when “Wild Rose” captured the magic of that place so beautifully.
— Reviewed by Joan Ellis

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