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Movie Review: Wild Rose

Which are the odds of a Scotswoman from Glasgow, with a thick accent (to the point that some US theaters are offering subtitles), becoming a country music star? Add to that the fact that Rose-Lynn Harlan is a young single mother of two kids, with no money to her name and who has just served a year-long prison sentence for a drug charge.

Wild Rose, starring Jessie Buckley (Chernobyl), tells the improbable story of the fiery Rose not simply as an aspiring artist but as an aspiring female artist. She has more than enough talent and drive to succeed, but this is not a story about potential, hard work or a romantic star-is-born kind of movie. The real conflict in Rose's life is the forced choice between family and career.

Rose believes, as songwriter Harlan Howard once said, that country music is about “three chords and the truth,” a description that she had tattooed on her right arm. But the truth is that the pursuit of a singing career is seen, in this unsentimental British movie, as basically incompatible with her role as a mother who has to work to support her kids. Something that Rose's own mother, Marion (Julie Walters), who took care of the grandchildren during Rose's incarceration and with whom the aspiring singer moves in after getting out of jail, won’t let her forget.

Yet, Marion is not the simplistic archetype of the evil mother who gets in the way of her daughter’s success and happiness. She is doing the best she can, and Rose has clear flaws too – which, by the way, work to make the character believable and endearing. Most of all, she is not very good in taking responsibility for her life and choices.

The conflict between Rose’s dream and her reality is not an easy dilemma to solve. Marion has a point when she says that it wouldn’t be fair to simply leave the kids behind to try to be a star in Nashville (not that this would have been an issue if the movie were about a man). On the other hand, Rose’s talent is undeniable, and she should have the chance to use it. It soon becomes clear that there won't be simple answers. The movie doesn’t go for the expected stereotypes, even though at some point it looks like it is about to turn into a modern-day fairytale. But well, it is a British movie after all, not Hollywood... Don’t worry, this is a good thing.

- Lalu Farias


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