Wild Rose Movie Review: A Star is Born in Jessie Buckley

Anyone who’s had a dream might often be told they can achieve it if they set their mind to it. The musical drama Wild Rose expertly demonstrates that message and reminds dreamers that it doesn’t matter where they try to accomplish it. It’s more important that they just try to make it happen. At the same time, it illustrates both the sacrifices and sense of home that comes with pursuing a dream.

When Rose-Lynn (Jessie Buckley) gets freed from prison, she’s ready to fulfill her aspirations of moving to Nashville to be a famous country singer. However, she’s financially strapped and her mother Marion (Julie Walters) forces her to put her children first. Also, Rose-Lynn must live with her criminal record and work a day job as a cleaning lady for Susannah (Sophie Okonedo), a wealthy patroness who encourages her to fulfill her dream.

It’s clear that Rose-Lynn has quite a few hurdles to overcome. Given how she makes unlikeable decisions such as trying to deny the existence of her children, she makes things harder on herself and it becomes easy to not root for her. In the hands of leading actress Jessie Buckley, though, Rose-Lynn is played as an antithetical heroine. Even as Rose-Lynn avoids being a mother, Buckley’s sombering facial expressions show that she’s also trying to figure out how to be a good one. In addition, whenever Rose-Lynn starts singing, her face shows a clear feeling of serenity.

Along with her life circumstances, a part of Rose-Lynn’s contradictory feelings are influenced by her mother who seems to put her down at every turn. It only seems that way because Marion angrily wants Rose-Lynn to wake up and remember her responsibilities. The character of Marion feels typical but Walters still portrays her arc with verity. Meanwhile, Sophie Okonedo is a beacon of light as Susannah who offers love and support to Rose-Lynn whenever Marion doesn’t.

The dichotomy between Susannah and Marion is one high point from the screenplay by Nicole Taylor who, along with director Tom Harper, foregoes the use of music acting as the storyteller. Despite Wild Rose being about a musician, it emphasizes more on her pursuit of being a singer rather than the songs themselves. However, the song “Glasgow (No Place Like Home)” is quite memorable and a perfect summation of Rose-Lynn’s arc.

In conclusion, Wild Rose sings a rather harmonious tune about finding your home and following your heart. It is also carried by a three-dimensional star turn from Jessie Buckley who gives one of the year’s best performances. When you add two terrific supporting performances from Julie Walters and Sophie Okonedo along with intricate screenwriting by Nicole Taylor, you have a film that’s as earnest as a good-natured country music song.

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Matthew St.Clair

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