Movie Review: Wild Rose
Rags-to-riches rises to fame (both real and fictional) are not uncommon in cinema. Wild Rose’s premise is very familiar: A recently paroled single mother, Rose-Lynn Harlan (Jessie Buckley), struggles to make her dream of becoming a country singer reality. There’s a bit of novelty in the fact that Rose-Lynn is Scottish, walking the streets of Glasgow in cowboy boots and a fringed leather jacket, but from the start, it’s easy to imagine where the plot is heading.
Still, it never quite arrives where you’d expect. To its credit, the film sidesteps many of the narrative tropes of the genre. The focus is on Rose-Lynn’s relationships with two women who challenge and motivate her: her mother, Marion (Julie Christie), and new employer, Susannah (Sophie Okonedo). It’s a refreshing change since so many of these stories focus on turbulent romantic relationships and struggles with substance abuse.
Buckley, a classically trained Irish singer, gives Rose-Lynn a reckless vitality that is compelling even as the character makes questionable choices. The film does have some pacing issues, most notably in the third act, that make the relatively trim runtime (101 minutes) feel longer than it is. There were a handful of times I expected the screen to cut to black and the credits to roll, but Wild Rose, like its protagonist, wasn’t ready to stop. Thanks to a fresh perspective and Buckley’s captivating energy, I was willing to watch a little longer.
Should you see it? Yes. It offers a unique take on a familiar formula.— S.W.
Viewed at Landmark Tivoli Theatre