We’ve seen a slew of music movies this summer, some based in fact (e.g. Rocketman) and one straight-up fantasy in Yesterday. Gloriously in between is Wild Rose, a femme country-music fairy tale that’s so painfully realistic, you ache for it turn out to be true.
Skillfully directed by Tom Harper (War Book), the film is powered by a fantastic singalong soundtrack of traditional favorites and new tunes co-written by screenwriter Nicole Taylor and star Jessie Buckley (Chernobyl). Men are pivotal to the plot — gentle heroes and dirty rotten scoundrels alike — but they’re minor players. Center stage in Wild Rose are women who chase their passions and try to be good mothers, too.
Like thousands of other young women gifted with a terrific voice, Rose-Lynn Harlan (Buckley, a native of Killarney, Ireland) dreams of going to Nashville. Unfortunately, she lives in Glasgow, Scotland, about 4,000 miles away. She’s got two young kids but no husband. And, after a year in prison, Rose has to wear an electronic monitor inside her white cowboy boot — which puts a crimp in wild nights with her band at the Glasgow Grand Ole Opry.
Aye, but Rose comes from fierce Celtic stock. No matter how many times life cruelly throws her left curves — I haven’t gone soppy so many times in a movie in ages — Rose picks herself up and recharges, with laser focus, on her dream. Her mum, Marion (Dame Julie Walters, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again), wanting her daughter to give up her “nonsense,” forces Rose to take a job as a “daily woman” and clean houses.
In a stunning Glasgow mansion, Rose meets Susannah (Sophie Okonedo, Hellboy) who, astonishingly, becomes her Fairy Godmother and arranges a grand party to raise money to send Rose to Nashville. Alas, like many artists, Rose is her own worst enemy, which means even magic dust can’t cure self-destruction.
But dry those tears, fairy tale lovers — there are more twists and turns to come, and by the end of this totally unbelievable, illogical, heartbreaking film, you’ll toe-tap out of the theater.
Now playing at Grail Moviehouse