Wild Rose

We have all had dreams which others might laugh at or find crazy. Precious few of us have the courage or pluck to follow through on those dreams. Life gets in the way. We settle into routine and what is expected of us. Those dreams die an unceremonious death. Here is another British music film, that aims to show us a woman, who despite all that is against her, sets out to live out her dream. And it is not as hokey as I make it seem.

Fresh off a 12 month sentence in prison, Glaswegian Rose-Lyn Harlan (Jessie Buckley – from television’s Chernobyl) is out without a penny to her name, but a song in her heart. That song is a country one. Country music is her passion and her dream is to travel to Nashville to sing at the Grand Ole Opry.

Once out she travels to her mother’s house, after a quick visit with her boyfriend (James Harkness – Rogue One, Darkest Hour). Her mother, Marion (Julie Walters – Billy Elliot, Mamma Mia!), has been taking care of Rose’s two young children while she has been in prison.

It becomes obvious she cannot work at the country bar she used to so Rose reluctantly takes on the job cleaning the house of a wealthy woman. Then moves herself and her two kids into a run down flat. Her dream of Nashville does not die much to her mother’s chagrin. When the woman (Sophie Okonedo – Hotel Rwanda, Aeon Flux) whose house she cleans comes up with an idea to get Rose the money she needs to travel to Nashville, instead of things beginning to look up, Rose’s life begins to unravel.

Some can sing. Some can act. Jessie Buckley demonstrates herself able to do both. It is a rare thing. But in this instance, a necessary one. Wild Rose, directed by Tom Harper (directed mini-series War & Peace – 2016), demands it of its leading lady. Buckley, who is Irish so even has to do a Scottish accent.

Though the film is rather formulaic and predictable in most instances, it has a heart as wide as the screen it is shown upon. Eventually that, along with the acting from its cast, wins the viewer over.

What it does show and show well, is the difficult path of women in music (or the arts, for that matter). Often they have to make a choice. A tough choice between their passion and their family. As much as Rose loves country music, at one point she is about to give up her dream to raise her children. Rose believes her being a success in music will be a benefit for everyone; her mother Marion disagrees. Conflict raises its ugly head.

Though you might think that the film is going to continue along its predictable way, it is just then when it zigs when you think it is going to zag. It is a less Disney way of telling a story and a more realistic one. Kudos to everyone involved in making that change of pace decision. With this it makes a film with plenty to say find its voice and sing.

Though music is the backbone of the film, the heart of it is the mother-child relationship. How strong that bond is. How it lasts for their entire lives. Marion and Rose still have things to work out. Mother-daughter things. Just as Rose and her young daughter do.

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