A Glasgow council estate doesn’t seem the ideal stage for an aspiring country music singer. Step into the outwardly grey world of Tom Harper’s new film, however, and viewers will find that there’s more passion vibrating from within these concrete towers than from any amp in the American South. A truly heart-warming tale about the ever-complicated and colourful relationship between motherhood and ambition, Wild Rose honours the selfless deeds that shape the seemingly unremarkable lives of remarkable women.
Rose-Lynn (Jessie Buckley) was wired from birth to sing. After being released from prison, her tunnel vision is focused on one destination: Nashville, Tennessee. But she’s not the young carefree girl she used to be; she’s a mother returning to two young children. As the protagonist struggles to balance her responsibilities as a parent with her true passion – and a fiery temper to boot – her own mother (Julie Walters) doubts whether her daughter will ever really grow up. When Rose-Lynn gets a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity from her boss Susannah (Sophie Okonedo), she must decide what takes precedence: her life as a mum or her life as a musician.
“Three chords and the truth.” This is the country mantra that Rose-Lynn has tattooed on her arm. Fittingly, the three actresses at the helm of this film strike every emotional note detectable to the human heart. Buckley is headstrong, volatile and rough around the edges, but the internal rack that pulls her between her family and her fantasy is deeply sympathetic, and her sense of humour endearing. The pillar of strength that is Walters can barely step into a scene without bringing tears to the eyes, so deep is her compassion, so heartbreaking her disappointment. As an audience, we want nothing more than to see her smile. Okonedo begins as the privileged, sheltered housewife, a picture of success, but she artfully pulls back layers in her character that reveal her to be every bit as torn and vulnerable as her employee.
Nicole Taylor’s screenplay weaves the lives of the women together artfully and affectingly, and the soundtrack provides the perfect emotional accompaniment. When the band are in session it’s hard not to – at the very least – tap a foot. The slower numbers are poignant and raw, the vocals pure and mournful. Overexposed lighting gives them an almost ethereal quality, as if we are being transported along with Rose-Lynn. The final song, though undoubtedly cheesy, sends a tingle down the spine and kindles something with which we can all relate: the importance of home.
Though the central premise of the film draws on a frequently mined issue, the sensitivity and warmth with which the tale is spun strikes a deep vein of cinematic riches. Wild Rose may not be realistic, but it’s a spellbinding depiction of female love and sacrifice.
Wild Rose is released nationwide on 19th April 2019.
Watch the trailer for Wild Rose here: