Rose-Lynn Harlan (Jessie Buckley) is a young Glaswegian mum who dreams of becoming a country music star. She has just served twelve months in prison and is now wearing a tag. As she tries to get back on her feet she must find a way to be a good mum and follow her dream.
Wild Rose is deeply satisfying and convincing as an underdog story. Watching a relatable and exciting character fight her way into a closed system is as enjoyable and moving as you’d hope. What elevates the film is its narrative of responsibility versus aspiration. Any time Rose is pursuing one there’s a horrible sense that the other is withering away.
The film wouldn’t be as effective without such an extraordinary cast. Jessie Buckley is fiery, unpredictable and sometimes even despicable. However, she is at no point beyond empathy. The pain she feels as she’s torn between her children and her music is writ large. She’s a great comedic presence and a tragic
Julie Walters plays Rose-Lynn’s mother, Marion. Throughout the film she serves as Rose-Lynn’s conscience, urging her to take responsibility for the children she loves. Walters is heartbreaking and utterly convincing as a woman who knows what’s right but is often disappointed. She is quietly powerful.
Nicole Taylor’s script is full of authenticity and pathos. This fraught yet tender story is brought to vivid life by Tom Harper’s innovative direction. Rose-Lynn is captured in close up, always brazenly herself, in moments of triumph and defeat.
Wild Rose may be a familiar story but it’s told with real heart and compassion. It’s one of the funniest and most moving stories of the year.
Wild Rose is premiering at the London Film Festival. See here for details: https://whatson.bfi.org.uk/