WORTH A LOOK?: ****
RUNTIME: 101 minutes
- Read on for reasons including how the female characters at this film’s heart turn tradition on its head
For those unfamiliar with Buckley she was runner-up in 2008 TV musical theatre talent show I’d Do Anything, went on to study acting and has gone from strength to strength since in theatre, TV and film.
Wild Rose is far grittier and complicated than A Star Is Born with Buckley’s character Rose-Lynn Harlan being released from jail complete with electronic tag which restricts her gigging ambitions but allows her to spend more time with the 2 children she’s left with her mother played by Julie Walters.
She finds work as a cleaner for a middle-class mother whose contacts enable her to visit London to seek advice from BBC Radio 2 DJ and country expert ‘Whispering’ Bob Harris.
There’s plenty to admire here not least that the story, which from the outset looks to be a familiar, well-worn true talent-making-good tale, is actually far less predictable than you might think.
Walters is convincing as the reliable but domineering mother and her relationship with her daughter is observed beautifully not least when she commends Rose on her new-found cooking skills and the country singer says she owes it all to her mother.
Okonedo is infuriatingly blind to Rose’s darker side but she does give a rounded performance as someone with soul who has lost her own way and recognises that the singer’s journey is 1 that she can assist with.
It’s a pleasure to watch such a challenging film with 3 complicated female characters at its heart where elements of the story that may have once seemed traditional (the 1st thing Rose does when she leaves jail is to find someone to sleep with) are turned on their head because of her gender.
Buckley is a natural actress with a great voice and will doubtlessly go on to even greater things. Music in cinema has been well represented in the last year, not least with the Best Actor Oscar for Rami Malek in Bohemian Rhapsody, and, ultimately, Wild Rose is a story about the transformative power of music to change lives.