January 19, 2020 – This musical drama about a singer in Glasgow, Scotland, whose heart is in Nashville, at first looks like it is headed down the usual path to musical stardom, but it changes direction, to a more personal, emotional story.
Talented Irish singer and actor Jessie Buckley plays Rose-Lynn Harlan, a country-western singer in Glasgow, Scotland. She's a local celebrity who longs to make it big in Nashville, Tennessee, home of the iconic Grand Ole Opry, where countless Country-Western stars have played, and Ryman Auditorium, the birthplace of Bluegrass.
However, believe it or not, there really is another Grand Ole Opry in Glasgow, and Rose sings there, or at least she did sing there before landing in prison on a drug charge. The movie opens with Rose being released on probation. She has to wear an ankle monitor, and is prohibited from leaving her residence from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. each day. No more night life and no more performances at Glasgow's Grand Ole Opry.
Somehow, she ends up working as a cleaning woman for a wealthy family outside of town, where her singing talent is discovered by her employer, Susannah (Sophie Okonedo of “Hotel Rwanda”). Rose asks Susannah to stake her to a trip to Nashville, but Susannah declines. She is supportive of Rose's ambitions, however, and persuades her to make a digital singing video to send to the BBC Radio host Bob Harris (playing himself in this film).
Harris recognizes Rose's talent and encourages her to pursue her passion for music. Susannah is inspired to arrange a performance by Rose at a big garden party where guests will be asked to contribute money for Rose's dream trip to Nashville. Susannah's husband, however, knows the truth about Rose's criminal past, and confronts her.
Rose finally admits the truth to Susannah, that she was in prison, and that she is the mother of two children, which she would have to abandon to her long-suffering mother's (played by Julie Walters) care if she were actually go to Nashville to pursue a singing career.
Rose has to make the difficult choice between following her Nashville dreams, or raising her two children. Rose makes her choice, but the story isn't that simple. It goes in another, slightly different direction, a kind of middle path that actually leads to a satisfying conclusion. Along the way, there are several stirring singing performances by Jessie Buckley and others.
Jessie Buckley is a very appealing, convincing, talented singer and actress, who, unfortunately for me, is very adept at duplicating the Glasgow accent (AKA the “Glaswegian accent”). I really needed subtitles for this movie, because this particular Scottish accent is very thick and hard for these old American ears to understand. I'd have been better off with Buckley's native Irish accent.
Despite my inability to understand some of the dialog in the movie, and the fact that I'm not a fan of this kind of music, I enjoyed the film. It is well written and acted. It is also expertly directed by Tom Harper, who also directed “The Aeronauts,” another of my favorite 2019 films (Wild Rose is listed as a 2018 film, but wasn't released until 2019). This film rates a B.
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