WILD ROSE (2018): Review by Katharine Cutler

Written by Nicole Taylor, Wild Rose is a wonderfully multi-faceted story about a young mother whose dreams of being a country singer are at odds with her children’s expectations of her. The film is moving and intricate, delving past the music and into the complicated relationships women have with each other. (KC: 4/5)

Review by FF2 Intern Katharine Cutler

After being released from prison, Rose-Lynn (Jessie Buckley), an aspiring singer in Glasgow, Scotland, tries to pursue her dreams of country stardom, while dealing with the responsibility of raising her two young children. Her chance comes on a trip to London arranged by her employer and friend, Susannah (Sophie Okonedo), but her life seems to stand in the way.

The film is a wonderful story about female relationships and the expectations that are put on women. Taylor’s writing paves the way for superb acting by Jessie Buckley and Julie Walters, who plays Rose-Lynn’s mother, Marion. The two constantly battle over expectation and responsibility and what it means to be a mother.

The story deals with many themes, from motherhood and independence to ambition and regret, but it never feels oversaturated. Instead, Rose-Lynn’s life unfolds before us, as complex as it is real. This credit again goes directly to Taylor’s writing, which gives us many complex female relationships, including a hard-to-balance one with her friend and boss, Susannah. 

Rose-Lynn and Marion’s relationship is well-developed, and it shapes the whole film without playing into the basic “mother and daughter who hate each other” trope. Their relationship also plays well against Rose-Lynn’s relationship with her daughter, Wynonna. Wynonna is largely silent, but her feelings are communicated beautifully by young actress Daisy Littlefield. Rose-Lynn’s relationship with Susannah is also incredible and touching, exposing a different side of Rose-Lynn and another way women interact.

Of course, the film is nothing without Jessie Buckley’s beautiful voice and the amazing songs, both well-known country songs and original ones written for the film. The one downside of the film is that the direction sometimes veers from what the script wants to say. Some scenes focus too much on the music and the cinematography is, in turn, overdone. In certain moments, the camera turns to closeups on Rose-Lynn as she sings, literally cutting out everyone around her, which takes away from the importance of the influence and support of those around her. These cinematography choices, including mismatching lighting and intense lens flares, reinforce that the story is about her being alone with her music, instead of giving us a view of how others see her in her most intimate moments. It takes away from the female relationships that are the backbone of the film.

The film’s script even drives the focus on the female relationships so much by including so few male characters. Rose-Lynn’s son is the only male character that is included in most of the film. Susannah’s husband also has a small part, as does a BBC Radio host. The father of her children is irrelevant and not someone she pines after; he’s gone and that’s that. The lack of male involvement in the story is refreshing and sadly, surprising. Thankfully, women, their relationships, and their emotions drive this film and its better for it, defying the expectation that women need men to tell them what to do.

Despite being a less-than-typical film about an ambitious musician, Wild Rose knows that its importance lies with the women. Dynamic writing paired with phenomenal acting pushes this film above and beyond a simple story about music and turns it into a meditation on dreams, ambition, and female expectation.

© Katharine Cutler (07/30/18) FF2 Media

 

Top Photo: Rose-Lynn singing, one of many moments in the film.

Middle Photo: Rose-Lynn and Susannah have a conversation.

Bottom Photo: Rose-Lynn, Marion, and her two children.

Photo Credits: Neon Rated, LLC

 

Q: Does Wild Rose pass the Bechdel-Wallace Test?

Yes!

Almost all the characters in this film are women. The main relationships, between Rose-Lynn and Marion as well as Rose-Lynn and Susannah, take up most of the conversational dialogue.

Like stated above, Lyle (Rose-Lynn’s son), Susannah’s husband, and a BBC Radio host are most of the male characters included in the film.

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