Jessie Buckley is fascinating to watch and listen to in an accessible, if specious Scottish drama.
The Irish singer and actress (impressive in last year’s Beast) has an éclat through country music reflected in a nuanced portrait in Tom Harper’s Wild Rose.
What’s feral and simmering will elevate to a certain surreal apex with the vicissitudes of Buckley’s recently paroled Rose-Lynn Harlan colliding through irresponsibility and ambition.
The immature Glasgow native returns to see her mother Marion (Julie Walters of Mamma Mia, Billy Elliot) taking care of 8-year-old Wynona and 5-year-old Kyle but shows some initiative in procuring a position to tidy up the residence of well-to-do Susannah (Sophie Okonedo). In turn, Susannah wants to help Rose-Lynn realize the chance to harness her innate gifts ultimately to Nashville.
An egotism and unwillingness to rein herself in may lead to that feeling of a tried-and-true path from obscurity but how the protagonist fashions her existence from a donned tattoo “three chords and the truth” begins to reveal an unexpected depth which never really makes the characters or narrative pat (though some could argue about the latter). It helps to have composer like Jack Arnold producing a soundtrack that helps augments the sub-dermal anxieties.
Quite a range of emotions burst from the restive, witty Buckley who should be very irresistible to many casting directors on the basis of what she does in this appealing, bracing examination written with much genuine flair by (small-screen experienced) Nicole Taylor as uninviting as Rose-Lynn can be at times. The underlying turns by Walters and Okonedo (an accomplished British thespian remembered from Hotel Rwanda and Dirty Pretty Things) also are finely shaded.
Wild Rose has a way of being truthful and disarming as interest in Rose-Lynn will not flag. It’s not really the art-house version of A Star Is Born with vocal aplomb and the musical genre tweaking the narrative to a point that may defy expectations. A winsome coda is earned as the what Harper and Taylor have in Buckley makes the aspect of believing in the possibilities almost negate the beauty that life has to offer.