Wild Rose is a soulful, country and western take on the old fish-out-of-water story, filled with solid performances and great music to back up the premise. The unlikely story of a Glasgow ex-con who dreams of making it big as a Nashville country music singer seems like a stretch, until you see the star who dares to make it a possibility.
Rose-Lynn (Jessie Buckley) finishes a prison sentence for drug trafficking with one thing on her mind: she's going to realize her dreams of becoming a Country singer in Nashville no matter what. Despite her commitment to that dream, the first hint that her priorities might not be in the right order is that her first stop after her release from prison is her boyfriend's house, rather than see her own children.
Rose-Lynn's mother, Marion (Julie Walters) takes care of her 5-year old grandson who barely remembers his mom and 8-year old granddaughter who's not ready to have her mom back in her life yet. Marion is firm about setting Rose-Lynn back on the right life track; she provides the support of continuing to watch her daughter's estranged children, and she offers a loving sternness only a mother can get away with when she finds her daughter a job as a housekeeper.
Susannah (Sophie Okonedo) is wealthy Black woman in need of a housekeeper, who discovers something special in Rose-Lynn's wild attitude toward life, as well as her outstanding voice. Even though she doesn't know about Rose-Lynn's children, Susannah petitions her other wealthy friends to raise the money to send Rose-Lynn to Nashville.
As the young starlet arrives in the USA to build her dreams, Wild Rose could have weathered some very predictable storms, but instead she chooses a slightly different path. Her motto, "three chords, and the truth," which is tattooed on her arm, draws out some amazing new songs, along with some deeper truths about her own character.
Director Tom Harper (The Woman in Black 2) takes the back seat, allowing his stars to lead us through the emotionally fraught film. He lets the music co-star in this motion picture, as it absolutely should. The scrappy bits of Rose-Lynn's life are treated with respect toward the subject matter.
Screenwriter Nicole Taylor (Secret Diary of a Call Girl) follows the tried and true crowd-pleasing formula of A Star Is Born, but still pens in enough unpredictable, honest moments to make Wild Rose very much its own thing. Wherever the faults are in the story, the stars are more than happy to fill them with their charm and honest takes on the characters.
Ultimately, Wild Rose is a call back to when truly talented stars were the driving force behind a film. It is truly impressive to watch Jessie Buckley's emotional interpretation of Rose-Lynn coupled with her stage presence and beautiful voice as she belts out those tunes on stage. No matter what the final takeaway is on the message of the film, the warm feeling of having gone through such an experience is more than worth the price of admission.