MESSAGE IN THE MOVIES
As I listened to the lyrics of one of the first songs in Wild Rose the words and tune had a familiar quality:
Country girl, take my hand
Lead me through this diseased land
I am tired, I am weak
I am worn
I have stole, I have sinned
Oh, my soul is unclean
Country girl, got to keep on keeping on
Yes, this song (originally recorded by Primal Scream) is not only a variation of “Precious Lord, Take My Hand” by Thomas A. Dorsey, but the words are a confession of sorts for Rose-Lynn Harlan (Buckley), recently released from a year in prison after serving time for a drug-related crime. When she arrives at her mother’s house in Glasgow, Scotland, her 5-year-old son Lyle (Adam Mitchell) is hesitant to approach her, and her 8-year-old daughter Wynonna (Daisy Littlefield) is cold and distant. Her mother (Julie Waters) doesn’t waver to speak out against Rose’s behavior in the past; she also belittles her dreams of traveling to Nashville as a country singer. The only person to quickly embrace her is Elliot (James Harkness) her current boyfriend. When Rose shows up at the neighborhood pub where she used to perform regularly, she discovers that her slot has been given to another local singer; naturally, she has to fight back by disrupting his performance.
Rose is indeed a talented singer, but she is self-absorbed and immature in her behavior. Her mother insists that she find work. Since Rose is on house arrest (with a monitoring bracelet around an ankle), she has to find work during the day and be home by night – hardly a recipe for an aspiring country star. She lands a job cleaning house for Susannah, a wealthy woman (Okonedo) with two kids of her own (who attend a nearby private school). One day her boss overhears Rose singing along to her headphones while vacuuming and encourages her to follow her dreams. Soon Rose is asking her to lend her money to fly to Nashville, since she is rich, after all. Susannah doesn’t give her the money, but she will do what she can to help her.
Wild Rose could take any number of predictable turns playing out this well-worn story, but it chooses to entertain such spiritual themes as simple grace, forgiveness and reconciliation. This is a small, intimate film that embraces working class life as well as big city dreams. While subtitles could have helped me cut through some of the Scottish dialect, all of the major stuff came through without a problem, including a wonderful score filled with originals as well as covers of other great songs.
This is Irish actor Jessie Buckley’s first major film role, but she has performed in musical theater on the London stage for the past ten years. If she wants to become a major country star in her own right, this film serves as her calling card.
Wild Rose is a small gem of a film and worth seeking out.
Halo and Pitchfork Rating:
Four halos: A surprisingly moving musical journey.
Two pitchforks: Occasional rough swearing; some heavy drinking; one scene of hanky-panky in a public place.
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Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader
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