Directed by: Tom Harper
Written by: Nicole Taylor
Starring: Jessie Buckley, Julie Walters, Sophie Okonedo, Jamie Sives, Craig Parkinson
Dreams as lofty as being a famous musician requires incredible focus, talent, and a few lucky bounces. It’s very easy for one to miss their chance and never achieve the glory they have been seeking since the beginning. However, chasing one singular dream can also open up the possibility that perhaps another makes more sense.
Shortly after being released from jail for smuggling drugs, Rose-Lynn (Jessie Buckley) has to face her new reality, which includes losing her job as part of the house band of a pub and her two children waiting for her with grandma. She dreams of becoming a famous country music star but the only way she can only see herself achieving that dream, by leaving Glasgow.
Music has a special way of being able to communicate one’s experiences and that’s why it has become a bedrock of many cultures. Different genres encompass these experiences and it can be felt simply by hearing the beats and melodies. This challenge falls before Rose-Lynn, who must find her voice and make the right decisions for herself and her family. As a person, who never planned to have kids, but rather to make it as a country star, this clash of priority serves as the main struggle she needs to battle during the course of this film. This type of character has certainly been done before but never with someone like Jessie Buckley.
She has been making her name well known in the past couple of years appearing in some hard-hitting dramas like Chernobyl and Taboo along with a decent feature film supporting role in Judy. However, this film demonstrates her incredible talent and will be the performance that will land her the breakout role that this should have been. Buckley brings such pure energy to this role along with her incredible singing ability. Everything seems easy for her when she gets on the stage and has a microphone in her hand. Even when her character, Rose-Lynn, makes decisions that might frustrate the audience, Buckley’s natural charm makes it impossible to cease rooting for her. This performance stands out as one of the hidden gems of this year in cinema and once she breaks out as a star, we can all look back to this film as the one that started her ascent into notoriety.
The main relationship struggle the film displays revolves around the mother-daughter dynamic of Rose-Lynn and Marion (Julie Waters). As they go back and forth about dreams and responsibility, the tension becomes prevalent but the love between remains. Their relationship provides the most catharsis because of the parallels of the two characters with the decisions that have landed them where they are in life. Waters delivers a tremendous performance in this serious role, especially when I have become accustomed to her silly and humorous acting in the two Mamma Mia! films. She pairs well with Buckley and the frustration that builds between them is palpable.
As this film focuses on the dream of music, I would be remiss to not mention the incredible songs within the narrative. Not only can Buckley sing incredibly well, but Wild Rose provides her the proper songs to display that talent. The one song that will define this film is certainly “Glasgow,” written by the legendary Mary Steenburgen. Those lyrics combined with Buckley’s voice create an emotional experience that lands perfectly in the film. Since experiencing the song, I have listened to it at least once a day not only because it’s great, but also due to the emotional weight it holds in the story. The song represents a sign of maturity and prioritization by the character.
While the story may be uplifting, it was also refreshing to see the gritty and vulgar behavior of our lead character. Rose-Lynn did what she wanted, which included cursing up a storm when upset and partaking in other non-PG behavior. It added another layer to the character from where she began and where her character arc concludes. The film has its flaws and I would not even classify it as great, but it has so much heart and passion to it that the story could inspire anyone to revisit their dreams and accomplish what they may have put off in the past.