Wild Rose is a bit to paint by numbers, even for a “Scotish girl wants to go sing country music in Nashville” movie, but Jessie Buckley is a magnetic presence that pulls you in and keeps you watching.
Rose-Lynn, fresh off a year in prison (unwittingly drug smuggling), tries to re-enter the life she had before, balancing her desire to become a big country (not western) singer and being a Mom to her two kids she had before turning 18. In the way of her dreams are bills and her mother, while a VERY helpful employer starts helping her make inroads into the UK’s country music scene.
Buckley is the reason to check out Wild Rose. She jumps off the screen with her energy, not just when she is singing, but as she spitfires her way from manufactured drama to manufactured drama. Right from the get go, her charisma is infectious, as you wish she wouldn’t make the bone headed decisions she makes early on because you are rooting for her so quickly.
That said, her charisma may hurt the film’s plot as we can’t really sympathize with the drama the film tries to cook up because you don’t get why her family wouldn’t think she can make it; she’s got the goods people. Plus, the plot takes a few cliched and expected turns late in the game, only to get to where the film was going anyways, before it zagged away for added drama. Embracing stereotypical plot turns for the sake of drama just irks me everytime, but watching Buckley helped soften the blow. Why couldn’t this just be a happy story through and through. She didn’t need the extra drama to tell her “truth”, even if I appreciated the set up for the killer final song and number.
The rest of the cast is borderline inconsequential, with Julie Walters getting the most work as Rose’s mom. The part, she makes the most of it, but, again, it’s quite standard procedure for this kind of movie. Though, she does almost sell the complete 180 the character pulls between two late scenes. Sophie Okonedo is also solid in the film, but she is also stuck in a pretty standard part, and a possibly controversial one? The whole thing feels a little magical black friend, as she just bulldozes Rose-Lynn’s path to success. Thankfully, the film doesn’t try to shove in a romantic love interest on top of everything else stereotypical.
Wild Rose is entertaining and unsurprising. While it might be easy to hold it against a film for playing it safe, Jessie Buckley makes it hard to do so this time around. She’s worth the price of admission, even if the film might not be anything terribly new or original. I could have used an extra scene or two of Buckley getting to sing, that’s what the film was missing the most.