Review: Wild Rose (2019)

Director: Tom Harper
Screenwriter: Nicole Taylor
Starring: Jessie Buckley, Julie Walters, Sophie Okonedo, Jamie Sives, James Harkness
Genres: Comedy, Drama
MPAA Rating: Rated R for language throughout, some sexuality, and brief drug material
Release Dates: 6/21/19 (Limited Theatrical); 9/17/19 (Disc/Streaming)
Where to Watch: Hulu
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%

I was expecting Tom Harper’s Wild Rose, starring Irish breakout actress Jessie Buckley, to be a A Star is Born copycat. And, while the film certainly has elements of similar rising music star films, it is also vastly different than that. This is mostly due to the commitment and talent of Buckley, who has been rightly praised for her work in this film (she was also great in Chernobyl and in a small role in the Judy Garland biopic, Judy).

In this film, Buckley does something near-miraculous: she embodies the young, Scottish, single mother who continuously neglects her kids with more warmth and humanity than the character may deserve. As an audience member, I gravitated between despising her for the way she treats her family and admiring her ambition and talent as a singer/performer. And, Buckley is not only an adept actress but an equally impressive vocalist.

If you like country music, then you will certainly enjoy the film’s use of music, both original and music previously released; if you’re not a fan of country music, then you might not be as enthralled by the country music and Nashville scenes as I was.

The film is hardly absent of cliche and moments that feel overly sentimental, but because Wild Rose is so well-acted (including by Dame Julie Walters as Buckley’s overbearing, yet caring mother), that doesn’t much matter. Wild Rose isn’t as good as A Star is Born, but it doesn’t have to be. It is enjoyable and powerful enough to stand out.

B+

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