Wild Rose Review: Familiar, but made fun through a country music spin and a breakout performance from Buckley
The film follows Rose-Lynn (Buckley), an aspiring country music singer from Glasgow, England that has a strong voice and has had some trouble with the law. To Rose, country music is three chords and the truth and that it allows her voice to shine and get her issues out. However, she finds her dreams to be unachievable as she also must provide for her two children that she had at a young age. Her lack of care for her children has made those around her, including her mother (Julie Walters), see her as just a dreamer who won’t grow up, but Rose persists that her dream will one day become reality. Now, after a greater opportunity arises thanks to her new friend, Susannah (Sophie Okonedo), Rose must decide whether it’s more worth it to live her dream or finally take on her adult duties and take care of her children.
Buckley’s performance is absolutely astounding here and she’s clearly the heart and soul of the film. She showcases a wide range of emotions that audiences will connect to and her singing is powerful, heartfelt, and meaningful; something that resonates well with country music. Buckley also showcases Rose’s complexity with her dreams and reality always conflicting that definitely comes from the strong writing from Nicole Taylor. With these two women coming together, they create a character that many viewers, especially those struggling to go into adult life, will relate to. It’s a performance and a character that’s always genuine on-screen and that embodies the passion and heart many people would associate with country music.
The country music aspect of Wild Rose is also very refreshing as I haven’t seen many stories told through this genre of music and it’s not a genre I’m too familiar with. However, after seeing how it impacts Rose, I can see why it’s grown in popularity over the last couple of years. With a lot of the songs used throughout the film, most of which are excellently sung by Buckley, there’s a sense of comfort and heart that comes from them and it makes the film a comforting watch. All of Rose’s feeling and emotions towards the genre culminate in a nice finale that’s a full-circle journey for her that will leave viewers feeling good about the film and maybe even think about country music a little differently.
There’s also some nice direction from Tom Harper as he creates some great standout scenes. While he mostly keeps the sole focus on Buckley in moments where she’s singing, Harper’s direction shines in scenes where he utilizes the background to make the scene feel full. There’s a great moment where Rose is cleaning Susannah’s house and singing the song that she’s listening too, and as she’s moving across the camera; different instrumentalists start playing and add to the song. I actually thought that this made that seen very memorable and special and I really liked how they add to the scene but are kept in the shadows so that Rose is still the center of attention. A lot of the performance scenes are like this and Harper does a great job creating memorable moments, which is important because of how familiar this kind of story is.
Wild Rose is sort of a fish out water story mixed with a rise to stardom story that’s sticks to its familiar roots more often than it should. Frankly I wished there was more of a balance between the family life of Rose and her rise to achieving her dreams because the family aspects fell a little flat for me. While some interesting scenes between Rose and her kids and between her and Walter’s Marion, who also puts in a great performance, I couldn’t help but feel like the resolution between her and family isn’t fully fleshed out. Even though their struggles and differences cause strife, it almost seems like a lot of the resolution happens off-camera and I couldn’t help but feel like a lot of the smaller characters we’re not as fleshed out. Especially for Susannah, I wanted to see more time taken to develop her relationship with Rose and for the relationships that fall apart to either mend or come to some other kind of resolution. The film instead focuses on Rose’s dreams a little too much and it leads to a story that’s a little too familiar to be fresh.
Even with some familiar story beats, Wild Rose is elevated through an excellent performance from Buckley and a true passion for country music that makes the film a must-see for any fan of the genre. Buckley showcases that she has a bright future and viewers will keep her on their radars after seeing her here. Honestly, if you’re in search for a movie that’s going to make you feel good by the time the credits roll, Wild Rose must be on your watch-list.