Every decade or so, one film arrives that has the premise of some dreamer travelling to the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee to make it big in country music. Clint Eastwood and his son Kyle starred in his directed HONKYTONK MAN way back in 1982, a flop at the box-office that was actually an excellent film. Also well remembered is the Australian entry, Chris Kennedy’s 1997 DOING TIME FOR PATSY CLINE, where an Aussie teen played by Matt Day leaves his Australian farm to travel to the United States for the Opry. The latest has a Glaswegian single mum chasing her singing dreams.
Rose-Lynn Harlan (Jessie Buckley) has always dreamt of becoming a country music star for as long as anyone can remember. But she lives in Glasgow and has two kids. Worst of all she is a convicted criminal, just released from prison and forced to wear an ankle bracelet for whereabouts reasons and curfew.
Jessie Buckley, Sophie Okonedo, and Julie Walters star in this inspiring comedy drama about a would-be country singer who dreams of leaving her dreary, workaday Glasgow life for the bright lights of Nashville. After a tiff at Glasgow’s local bar, the Grand Ole Opry, she destroys any chance of returning to her job as the house-band singer. Sporting her white cowboy hat and white leather cowboy boots, Rose-Lynn lands a new job as a housekeeper for the lovely, and very posh, Susannah (Sophie Okonedo). After catching her singing on the job, Susannah’s kids quickly become Rose-Lynn’s biggest fans and Susannah her enthusiastic patron, determined to help her get to Nashville. But Rose-Lynn’s dreams come at a cost. She has to leave her two kids to her reluctant mother (Julie Walters), who knows all about abandoning dreams.
WILD ROSE also plays as a coming-of-age story of an overgrown kid still chasing her dreams. But what distinguishes WILD ROSE from the ordinary feel-good chasing ones dreams story is its insistence of dealing with reality.
The film is slightly marred by the songs sung with the lyrics that over explain what has happened, plot-wise. For example when Rose-Lynne returns back to Glasgow, the lyrics “There’s no place like home” can be heard in the song that she sings.
The drama is aided by two excellent performances, one by Buckley as Rose-Lynne and the other by Julie Walters as her mother who proves that acting can all be done with the eyes. Her character does not have long monologues or speeches and neither does her character need to indulge in cheap theatrics.
The film’s greatest pleasure is its rooting in reality. The decision on whether to put family or career (singing in the Opry) first is crucial and the script by Nicole Taylor never fails to remind audiences of the fact. And the obvious message is the one on where it is to find ones dreams. To elaborate more would spoil the film’s ending, so it is best to see the film oneself.