A Star Is Born: Our Review of ‘Wild Rose’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - June 21, 2019
A Star Is Born: Our Review of ‘Wild Rose’

Sometimes the only thing you’ve got to hold on to is three chords and the truth…

You’d be right to wonder who Jessie Buckley is if I tell you she’s starring in the new movie Wild Rose.  But after you go and see it you’ll know that she is a star in the making as she tears up the screen as a country singer trying to make it big.

Rose-Lynn Harlan (Jessie Buckley), a rebellious country singer who dreams of trading the working-class streets of Glasgow for the Grand Ole Opry of Nashville, juggles her menial job, two children, and committed mother (Julie Walters), as she pursues her bold ambition of a one-way ticket to musical stardom. With the support of her boss (Sophie Okonedo), Rose-Lynn embarks on a life-changing journey that challenges her sense of self and helps her discover her true voice.

This is the kind of movie that some actors know where they can just hit it out of the park and Jessie Buckley does that here in Wild Rose; a movie that we’ll grant has a certain formula but is bound to raise the profile of both star Jessie Buckley and director Tom Harper.

It’s not a movie that reinvents the wheel by any means but when you can capture lightening in a bottle like everyone involved here has done, you simply have to run with it.

Director Tom Harper has quietly been honing his craft in a variety of smaller features and on various TV series but I think he manages to really elevate his game on this feature.  Not every director can get out of the way of his actors and let them carry the frame, but he does that exactly that here.  It’s a simple, but poignant film that is driven by the engine that is Jessie Buckley.  Not just through an incredibly solid performance that allows us to see the passion for the music, but the pain in it as well.

She’s not just a Scottish girl who likes country music; she feels this music to her core.  And it’s not a film filled with Taylor Swift or Carrie Underwood tunes either, the film dives into deep cuts and genuine alt-country tunes that are emotive and amazing.  The music is just as important as the narrative and without writer Nicole Taylor and a stellar musical department making sure all these songs got cleared otherwise we could have had a movie that would have been very different.

Some people just scream star power, that’s Jessie Buckley in this film.  As Rose-Lynn she is a fire brand of ambition and emotion that is bubbling with such ferocity in her soul that she can barely keep it contained.  With all that piss and vinegar, Buckley brings maturity to it all as well because we see her character as someone desperate to reign in her unbridled passion and energy to focus it for not only herself but her family as well.  The indomitable Julie Walters is fantastic opposite her as her mother who’s trying to fine the balance of making her daughter grow up and accept her responsibilities but not kill her dreams at the same time.  Sophie Okondeo rounds it out as Rose-Lynn’s boss and biggest fan.

Ultimately this movie is the coming out party for Jessie Buckley, because here in Wild Rose she successfully owns the screen as a compelling and sympathetic heroine.  She’s flawed as all hell, but she’s damn well not going to give up in trying to get what is hers.  It’s a life lesson to be learned as Wild Rose isn’t just about going for that brass ring, but making damn sure you rip the damn thing off the wall.

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David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like Examiner.com, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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