Bloom­ing bril­liant

Llanelli Star - - FILM REVIEWS -

SOME­TIMES it’s hard to be a woman but it’s harder to be a woman who sac­ri­fices her long-cher­ished dreams of fame for her chil­dren in di­rec­tor Tom Harper’s up­lift­ing drama of cre­ative strife and self-em­pow­er­ment.

Blessed with a stel­lar lead per­for­mance from Ir­ish ac­tress Jessie Buck­ley, Wild Rose re­sets the rags-to-riches of A Star Is Born to the mean streets of Glas­gow with a toe-tap­ping coun­try mu­sic twang.

For the open­ing hour, screen­writer Nicole Tay­lor seems to be fol­low­ing the fre­quently plucked chord struc­tures of the genre, com­pos­ing ob­sta­cles that the spir­ited hero­ine must over­come if she is to de­liver a barn-storm­ing per­for­mance on the stage of The Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Ten­nessee.

A charm­ing cameo from BBC radio DJ “Whis­per­ing” Bob Har­ris, who en­cour­ages Buck­ley’s as­pir­ing song­bird with kind words (“You’ve got some­thing to say”), en­forces our hopes of a tri­umphant and melo­di­ous fi­nal act.

In its fi­nal verses, Tay­lor’s script con­fi­dently sub­verts ex­pec­ta­tions and

pro­pels the lead char­ac­ter in an un­ex­pected di­rec­tion with­out feel­ing con­vo­luted or con­trived.

Gen­uine emotion re­ver­ber­ates in every frame, most ob­vi­ously when­ever Buck­ley stands at a mi­cro­phone and rips out her pro­tag­o­nist’s heart like every great coun­try diva.

Her star was born last year in the dis­turb­ing psy­cho­log­i­cal thriller Beast but it rock­ets into the fir­ma­ment here un­der Harper’s sen­si­tive di­rec­tion. She plays Rose-Lynn Har­lan, who was still a child when she gave birth to her sec­ond bairn.

Now she has been re­leased from prison with a se­cu­rity tag af­fixed to her an­kle to en­sure she ob­serves night-time cur­few, Rose-Lynn must tighten her fee­ble grasp of her ma­ter­nal re­spon­si­bil­i­ties or lose the re­spect of her eight-year-old daugh­ter and five-year-old son for­ever.

Rose-Lynn’s purse-lipped mother Mar­ion ( Julie Wal­ters) fears her daugh­ter will aban­don the chil­dren again to pur­sue im­pos­si­ble dreams of be­com­ing a coun­try mu­sic singer in Nashville.

“You bet­ter mind your tag doesn’t go off when you’re go­ing through [air­port] se­cu­rity,” de­spairs Mar­ion.

Un­per­turbed, Rose-Lynn earns money as a clean­ing lady for busi­ness­woman Su­san­nah (So­phie Okonedo).

The well-to-do home­owner is daz­zled by Rose-Lynn’s tal­ent and sug­gests they crowd-fund the jour­ney to Amer­ica in­clud­ing a head­line set at Su­san­nah’s im­pend­ing 50th birthday party.

Sport­ing the tattoo “Three chords and the truth,” which Rose-Lynn be­lieves is the essence of coun­try mu­sic, the flighty jail­bird vows to prove her doubters wrong in­clud­ing Su­san­nah’s deeply scep­ti­cal hus­band Sam ( Jamie Sives).

Wild Rose blooms with a few pleas­ing nar­ra­tive thorns, an­chored by Buck­ley’s raw power and ster­ling sup­port from Wal­ters and Okonedo as two very dif­fer­ent but equally re­lat­able em­bod­i­ments of nur­tur­ing moth­er­hood. Harper gives char­ac­ters space and time to find their voices and his life-af­firm­ing film hits the high notes with­out strain­ing to be heard.

Julie Wal­ters as Mar­ion Jessie Buck­ley as Rose-Lynn Har­lan

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