In the grand tradition of the surprising revitalization of the Western genre, with recent hits such as A Star is Born, or even music-wise the infamous Old Town Road, quickly becoming influential pieces of cult-media within the past few weeks, it’s safe to say that the traditional country sound, is back in full force, whether you like it ironically, or not. In what has slowly consumed the entirety of this year, with stale Yee-haw references, and other throwbacks to a more outback place and time, Tom Harper’s latest feature is a near perfect testimony to the artists who strive to continue representing an underrepresented form of music.
Wild Rose’s greatest strength is it’s characters. While keeping its general narrative as simple and concise as possible, screenwriter Nicole Taylor always keeps a consistent pace throughout Rose-Lynn Harlan’s epic journey of self-reflection and identity, where the constraints of the economy and limitations of having a criminal record, are menacing threats lurking around the corner. For such a flawed, broken character, Taylor always keeps her character’s motivations and likable appeal at the forefront, for every nonsensical path Rose takes. It’s a rough journey to follow, yet it’s ultimately a rewarding watch. Although, this unfortunately does come with a small, semi-insignificant cost in the form of the film’s all too predictable narrative structure, resulting in a ending that feels all too stretched out, alongside some songs that largely feel hit or miss.
However, the film would simply cease to exist without the incredible Jessie Buckley, who manages to bring out the best out of Taylor’s script with unfiltered humanity. With each tribulation her character faces, she always manages to add the perfect amount of realism and maturity into her role, mostly in the form of painful emotional breakdowns. But let’s not dismiss Julie Walter’s work here, who honestly steals the show with her portrayal of a struggling grandmother, taking care of Rose and her two dismissed children. There’s a specific scene where we can visibly see her character’s anxiety and stress, through the pulse of Walter’s unsteady neck. If that isn’t raw humanistic acting at its most appealing, I don’t know what is!
Wild Rose is simply wonderful and heartbreaking; dealing with both the emotional and traumatic elements of conforming with the harsh realizations of systematic rulings and democracy. While all too familiar in terms of it’s narrative beats; feeling a little too copy & paste towards films such as the aforementioned A Star is Born, there’s something so motivational and comforting about the Glasgow dialect and characters, that make Wild Rose an experience worth while. Also, the film’s climactic conclusion doesn’t end with the all too problematic resolution of suicide/self harm, so that’s already a ginormous win, compared with some other recent productions that have dealt with similar themes and motifs.
Wild Rose hits select cinemas on June 21st