Thursday, May 16, 2019

Tribeca with Abe: Wild Rose

I’ve had the pleasure this year of screening a number of selections from this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, which ran April 24th – May 5th.

Wild Rose
Directed by Tom Harper

There’s nothing like an out-of-control rock star. Having earned fame through some combination of hard work, perseverance, and sheer luck, there is a certain persona that can be created, one that can be inspirational to young fans and also entirely destructive to a person’s own wellbeing. It’s usually important to maintain a degree of stability on the road there, or at least overcome obstacles that include coming from a small town with so much competition against peers all over the world. Acting like an entitled celebrity before any of that has been achieved, however, isn’t a great way to start on the road to making it big.

Rose-Lynn (Jessie Buckley) is released from prison and returns to the home of her mother Marion (Julie Walters), who has been looking after her two young children while she was away. Obsessed with country music, Rose-Lynn dreams of making it to Nashville. Glasgow doesn’t provide the opportunities she needs, and so she takes a job cleaning the house of a kindly and successful woman named Susannah (Sophie Okonedo). Impressed with Rose-Lynn’s talent when she hears her singing while she’s cleaning, Susannah indicates the desire to invest in her musical future, though Rose-Lynn has chosen not to share with her the fact that children are part of an equation that she hasn’t fully figured out how to solve.

There have been many films made about eager young musicians trying to achieve fame. This one manages to stand out as original and involving thanks to its portrayal of the extremely passionate and equally self-destructive Rose-Lynn, who knows what she wants but isn’t eager to do all the things she needs to in order to get there. Susannah represents a chance to skip so many of the steps, and that opportunity forces Rose-Lynn to decide between her career and the children she knows need her, as frequently expressed by the mother who wants to support her but will only to do so if she sees more of an investment in her family. She may feel trapped in small-town Glasgow, but this story should be relatable to many.

Buckley broke out at Sundance last year with an impressive turn in the dark “Beast,” and this part couldn’t be any more different. Here, she is exceptional, channeling so much frustration and passion into her young dreamer, equally mesmerizing when she’s speaking dismissively and singing beautifully. As her two strongest influencers, Walters and Okonedo infuse crucial authority into their performances. This film balances great music and a solid story, both anchored around its magnetic protagonist.


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