A musician from Glasgow dreams of becoming a Nashville star.
Director: Tom Harper
Writer: Nicole Taylor
Stars: Jessie Buckley, Matt Costello, Jane Patterson
Closed Captioning Available
Jessie Buckley is an actress who can sing. I’ve been listening to her all week because this British comedy/musical leaves you wanting not just more of her voice but more of her essence. Warm, strong, broken and smart. Her jubilant keening, especially on a track called Glasgow, is the kind of thing that makes you sigh and cry (right before pressing repeat).
You may already be a fan of Buckley, so good in Beast. She’s even more dominant here as a hard-drinking Glaswegian, single mum and ex-con, desperate to make it in Nashville but forced to work instead as a cleaner.
Rose-Lynn Harlan has no money for new clothes, no time for makeovers and no interest in being told she’s beautiful. It is absolutely crucial to the film’s appeal that Rose-Lynn’s hair often looks like a pleasantly arranged collection of rats’ tails.
She’s funny. Told to write about what she knows, she quips: “What? The bleach ran away with the broom?” But the script, from Scotland’s Nicole Taylor, is more than a string of zingers.
We think we know where we are with our heroine’s salt-of-the-earth mum Marion (Julie Walters, fantastic), who works in a bread shop and looks after Rose-Lynn’s two young children. The same goes for Susannah (Sophie Okonedo, equally wonderful), the mellifluous, trendy housewife who employs Rose-Lynn as a cleaning lady and becomes her champion. Evidently, the middle classes have their own version of the Twilight Bark. Susannah sends one cry for help via an email to the BBC and immediately gets a response. At a crowdfunding party she wears a puffy gold skirt that makes her look like a fairy godmother.
Suffice to say, it’s not that simple. In a breathtaking scene, Marion gives a voice to all the working-class women who’ve never been offered a helping hand. This is an upbeat project fuelled by anger.
Admittedly, some of the plot turns are a tad Hollywood (the economic realities of working in a bread shop while caring for two small children are sugar-coated; Rose-Lynn’s alcoholism is waved away as if by magic). Nor is Wild Rose shot in a particularly distinctive way. But who cares when the team get so much right? The female talent is breathtaking. The song Glasgow was written by Mary Steenburgen, Kate York and Caitlyn Smith. They should write more.
By the way, I was determined to end this review without using the phrase a star is born. Whoops!
– Charlotte O’Sullivan, London Evening Standard