Actress Jessie Buckley delivers the biggest star making performances of the year in director Tom Harper’s electrifying crowd pleaser Wild Rose. As budding 23 year old country singer Rose-Lynn Harlan, Buckley establishes a commanding presence that captivates, enthralls, and moves. It’s the kind of work that people who see it won’t forget for a very long time.
Buckley’s tough talking, hard living Glaswegian has recently been released from a prison stint. She makes her way back to her concerned and increasingly vexed mother (an equally brilliant Julie Walters) and her two young children. Immediately, Harlan sets about putting her burgeoning country music career back on track, a decision driven by immense talent and a single-minded goal of success; one that could cause her family even further pain and trauma.
Nicole Taylor’s perceptive, witty, and fully realized screenplay gives Buckley (and the rest of the cast, including Sophie Okonedo as a kindly woman of means) plenty to work with. The musical sequences are some of the year’s biggest show stoppers, which says a lot in a year that has been packed with some indelible songs and on screen performances.
But the film belongs to Buckley, who’s a goddamned force of nature. She made a large impression at last year’s festival with her darker, subtler performance in Beast, but Wild Rose is the type of film that should rightfully propel this woman into the stratosphere. Much like the character she portrays in Wild Rose, she’s got the “it factor” in spades. The film itself is great, but her work in it is nothing short of explosive.