In many ways the anti- A Star Is Born, Tom Harper’s Wild Rose serves up an honest portrayal of a talented musician with ambitions of stardom and the travails inherent in pursuing that dream.
Grounded by a breakthrough performance from Jessie Buckley (Chernobyl), the film follows her gifted country singer Rose-Lynn, a recently-released felon and single mother of two who strives to leave Glasgow for Nashville.
Though Nicole Taylor’s poignant script is unclear on how Rose-Lynn plans to get her big break or if songwriting is even in her arsenal, these ambiguities generally add to her tragic naiveté instead of detracting from the story’s potency.
With shades of fellow realistic artistic rags-to-riches narratives 8 Mile and Fish Tank, Wild Rose fleshes out its protagonist’s struggles with cliché but warranted disapproval from her mother Marion (Julie Walters, Mary Poppins Returns) and various opportunities for Rose-Lynn to achieve her dreams that are organically compromised by other responsibilities.
By being raw and direct about the physical and emotional tolls these heartbreaks take, the filmmakers subvert expectations on multiple occasions — a remarkable feat, considering they’ve already trained viewers’ brains not to hold out for a happy ending.
Grade: B-plus. Rated R. Starts July 12 at Grail Moviehouse