As the Queen of Country Dolly Parton famously sings; “Workin’ 9 to 5, what a way to make a livin'”, but that life just ain’t for everyone.
Fresh from her breakthrough performance in psychological thriller ‘Beast’, Jessie Buckley is back in new music drama ‘Wild Rose’. She plays a young Glaswegian woman, Rose-Lynn who’s just been released from prison after serving a one year sentence. She’s reunited with her mother, Marion, played by Julie Walters, and her two children and attempts to begin rebuilding her life. However, she’s forever drawn away from her responsibilities by her life long dream of becoming a country music singer with her sights set firmly on hitting the big time in Nashville, Tennessee.
Rose-Lynn is a frustrating character to say the least. Whilst her infectious humour and gay abandon approach to life are entertaining and even endearing at first her consistent failure to face up to the responsibilities of motherhood doesn’t make things straightforward for the audience. With this in mind it’s even more impressive that the story always manages to remain compelling. The film’s collection of characters are so effortlessly watchable that the narrative moves along at a great pace, always being complimented by the fantastic country & western, sorry, just country, soundtrack. Therefore, it’s a shame that the final act somewhat struggles, losing the natural momentum that the rest of the film has going for it. However, the actual content of this closing act is still of a great quality, and in a way this less polished more rough around the edges finish feels like it could be a reflection of Rose-Lynn herself.
Jessie Buckley is sensational in this leading role, delivering every one of her lines with an astoundingly good Scottish accent. The transformation from her previous, debut film role is remarkable and showcases just what a versatile performer she is. She lends her incredible vocal talents to the film as well, performing the fantastic collection of songs that make up the soundtrack. Her raw talent makes the story so much more effective and allows Rose-Lynn to win the hearts of the audiences thanks to her truly beautiful voice. Marion, her mother is however the voice of reason throughout the film and Julie Walters portrays her superbly. As joyous as it is to see Walters ham it up in small comedic supporting roles as she has done in her most recent films it’s an absolute delight to see her in such a brilliant dramatic role once again. Similarly to Buckley she masters the Scottish twang, conveying a truly natural performance. She’s effortlessly funny and brings such great dramatic ability to the role too. One moment in particular is reminiscent of Glenn Close’s fantastic performance in ‘The Wife’ as Walters exudes so, so much emotion without uttering one single word. When Buckley and Walters share the screen ‘Wild Rose’ is in full bloom.
If ‘A Star is Born’ was set in Scotland it might look a little like this but ‘Wild Rose’ is its own story and tells it in such a dynamic way. Rose-Lynn is a challenging and complex character to have at the helm of the narrative but she’s why it’s so good. She’s not the perfect protagonist, she’s a realistic and relatable one. Buckley’s talent shines through in every moment and cements her as a cinematic star and her chemistry with Walters is irresistible. If you’re not a fan of country music don’t worry as ‘Wild Rose’ is selling much more than rodeos and rhinestones, daring to ask if life long dreams and real life responsibilities can co-exist?
Written by Hamish Calvert
Rating – 8/10
Question: What is your favourite film set in Scotland?
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