Wild Rose (3 stars)

Wild Rose

Jessie Buckley is electric in this tale of a Scottish country singer striving to make it to Nashville

Beast's Jessie Buckley is the heart of this pleasing musical drama about a Glaswegian woman who won't let go of her dream. Reuniting with War & Peace director Tom Harper, Buckley plays Rose-Lynn Harlan, who skips out of prison, pulls cowboy boots over her ankle monitor and cracks back on with her quest for Nashville fame. Rose-Lynn's resumption of her wild ways and her country music compulsion infuriate her mum Marion (Julie Walters), who has been caring for Rose-Lynn's two kids and expects her daughter to start taking responsibility for them and herself.

Our heroine is feckless, has anger management issues and is definitely not a mother of the year candidate, so we could find her irksome. But not a bit of it. When all things conspire against Rose-Lynn, whose ability to torpedo herself is almost as special as her voice, we find ourselves pulling for her. Funny, feisty and full of unquenchable hope, she very reluctantly takes work as a cleaner and sings her socks off upstairs and down. Improbably, Rose-Lynn finds a patron in her posh employer Susannah (Sophie Okonedo) and seems to be making some headway in a musical career.

Despite some unavoidable – or arguably deliberate – clichés in the Cinderella tradition, the film's BAFTA-winning screenwriter Nicole Taylor (Three Girls, The C Word) is more social realist than fantasist, and the downturns feel true. Buckley is electric, a genuine star in the ascendant. Although not as rare as it used to be, it's also still a pleasure to see a film that's women-driven and not about finding or keeping a man.

Of the film's many songs, several of them co-written by Buckley and Taylor, it's a pity there are not more and better originals. There is also an unfortunate bit where Whispering Bob Harris plays his kindly self that sticks out like a sore thumb, where a fictional music biz bod would have been strangely more convincing (and no one outside the UK will get it anyway). But, as a timely tale about never giving up on yourself, Wild Rose is warm-hearted and inspiring.

General release from Fri 12 Apr.

Wild Rose

  • 3 stars
  • 2019
  • UK
  • 1h 41min
  • Directed by: Tom Harper
  • Cast: Jessie Buckley, Julie Walters, Sophie Okonedo
  • UK release: 12 April 2019

Rose-Lynn (Buckley) is a Glaswegian woman who, on leaving prison, resumes her quest for fame as a country music singer. A warm-hearted and inspiring tale, not without clichés in the Cinderella tradition, and Buckley is a genuine star in the ascendant.

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