Three Cords and the Truth
Review: Wild Rose
(M) Jessie Buckley, Julie Waters, Jamie Sives, Sophie Okonedo, James Harkness
“Sing your own song” Is the promo tagline for the new film Wild Rose. Thankfully the film, its script and the country music that strings it all together, is much more captivating than its cheesy tagline.
In Wild Rose, the audience is introduced to the very unlikeable Rose-Lynn Harlan (Jesse Buckley), a convicted criminal and single mother of two who has dreams of becoming a star country singer. Recently released from jail Rose-Lynn returns home to Glasgow where she is reunited with her mother (Julie Waters) and her two children. Both relationships are strained especially as Rose-Lynn feels detached from her children since her yearlong jail sentence.
Rose-Lynn also finds she can’t return to her old job as lead singer of the Glasgow ‘s Grand Ole Opry house band thanks to the ankle bracelet and curfew she has to keep as part of her jail release deal. Instead Rose-Lynn becomes a housekeeper for the wealthy Susannah (Sophie Okonendo) who after hearing her sing becomes Rose-Lynn’s biggest fan and supporter.
All the while Rose-Lynn continues to risk everything, even her family, to get to Nashville and become a bona-fide country singer.
As unlikeable as her character begins, her journey will have you rooting for her and crying with her by the end. Irish singer and actress Jessie Buckley (Beast) holds her own as Rose-Lynn and with each song gives an equally arresting performance.
Julie Waters (Mary Poppins Returns) portrayal as Rose-Lynn’s mother anchors the film. Her character ark was the most compelling with Julie utilizing her limited screen time by showing the audience how every emotion passed through her body and facial expressions. Julie embodied the mother’s guilt, grandmother’s love and the contention between wanting to support her daughter but also making her take responsibility for her life and kids.
The strong casting choice and direction of Tom Harper (War Book) did well to deliver this wholesome story.
Even if you aren’t a fan of country music and your only reference is ‘Old Town Road’ by Lil Nas, you can’t not appreciate Jessie Buckly’s singing talent or her character’s passion for the music genre.
Wild Rose both plays into and challenges the western individualistic ideals of following your dreams or passion and if needed be somewhat selfish to achieve that. The film then challenges that narrative when exploring setting aside those dreams when you have children or competing responsibilities.
Wild Rose asks at where is the balance between supporting your family and also caring for your own wants and needs. Here lies the sense of individualism versus community. Although the film didn’t get close to addressing what that would mean when faith is brought into the mix, faith can offer a much clearer perspective. When the focus shifts to Jesus, you have to take a step down from the pedestal, humble yourself and discover what it means to exist not just for yourself (See John 15; Philippians 2).
One thing the film did show was how we can put mental blocks on own lives. For Rose-Lynn she felt that being born in Glasgow not Nashville is why she isn’t a star country singer already and she resents having children so young as she feels it restricts her from achieving her dream. This may be true to an extent, yes where you are born, the opportunities available and the crowd we surround ourselves with influence where we are now. But as Rose-Lynn discovers our mentality and everyday choices determines where our path diverges to either remain unmoved or to better our circumstances.
What mental blocks do we put on ourselves?
How do we determine which path to take? Psalm 23:1-6, Matthew 7:8