Director Tom Harper and writer Nicole Taylor explore a working-class pipedream with music drama Wild Rose. The plot follows Glaswegian singer Rose-Lynn Harlan (Jessie Buckley) who, fresh out of jail, is yearning to become a Nashville country star. Her far-fetched pursuit sees her clash with her no-nonsense mother Marion (Julie Walters) as she neglects her two young kids in the process. However, when she gets a job as a ‘daily woman’ for middle-class housewife Susannah (Sophie Okonedo), an unexpected door of opportunity opens.
Country music is about as at home in the rambunctious streets of Glasgow as ballet dancing is in County Durham, and Harper presents this contrast effectively through the way in which he directs the piece. Though the narrative strikes the common chords of the rags to riches arc, the film is carried by the magnificent central performance. Rose-Lynn is fallible, foulmouthed and a force to be reckoned with, and Buckley soars through the movie like a fierce ball of destructive energy. Her strength is matched by Walters, who, as Marion, conceals emotion behind a tough exterior and a sharp tongue. When the mother and daughter come to blows at various points in the story, the harsh weegie dialect seethes and stings, but there’s an endearing unbreakable bond underneath the insults.
Wild Rose is a soulful celebration of a daydream believer, boosted by a thumping soundtrack and a superb turn by Jessie Buckley, who flaunts her raspy vocals in the leading role. Rose-Lynn sports a tacky mantra tattoo that reads ‘three chords and the truth’, a country quote attributed to songwriter Harlan Howard. The ill-judged ink captures the passion of the diamond-in-the-rough, heart-string plucking protagonist, and by the time the credits roll, audiences will be crying out for an encore.