"One of the golden things about being the director was that I didn't have to worry about how hard it was to do some of the things. "-Brad Bird, writer/director, The Incredibles on his naïve wishes in preproduction
Rose-Lynn (Jessie Buckley) is a rebel with a dream to become a country star in Nashville.
Review by Louise Keller: Jessie Buckley is astonishing in this satisfying and emotionally rich drama in which a young rebel throws caution to the wind to pursue her dream to become a country star in Nashville. She has all the qualities of a Star. It's a story about dreams and finding your voice. It's also about having something to say and the courage to say it. Director Tom Harper (Peaky Blinders, War & Peace) has created a film that may appear simple but is in fact a masterstroke in subtlety and execution. The subtlety may not be apparent when you first look at the fearless protagonist at the story's heart; it is the nuances of the relationships and insight into her emotional journey that leave a scent as heady as that of a wild rose growing in its natural environment. As for the music: it rocks and Buckley shows the depths of her talents.
Three chords and the truth are the words tattooed on the right arm of Rose-Lynn (Buckley), a brash, wild canon of a Glaswegian gal, whose passion for country music and life is infectious. When we first meet her, she is going home after a spell in jail - to her two young kids, who have been looked after by her mother, Marion (Julie Walters). Even 12 months behind bars does not seem to have quashed Rose-Lynn's spirit or daring propensity for risk-taking.
I love the scene when Rose-Lynn, buoyed by swigs of alcohol, dons her headphones and sings at the top of her voice as she vacuums the house in her capacity of Susanna's (Sophie Okonedo, superb) housekeeper. Using the cord as a lasso is a lovely touch. Thanks to George Steel's beautiful cinematography, we can see the phantom musicians in her mind's eye. Like Susanna, we are seduced by Rose-Lynn's raw talent. Susanna's well-meaning desire to help the burgeoning star by throwing a crowd funding party hits road bumps.
Julie Walters is perfectly cast as Rose-Lynn's mother and it is the mother daughter relationship that is at the film's core. The two young children deliver fine performances and the conflicted relationships between them and their mother is also key. The compass always points to Nashville and by the time she gets there, we are filled with expectations as to how the story will progress for this unruly rose.
In the scenes that matter, it is not what is said, but what is NOT said that counts. Harper manages the emotional undercurrent with finesse. Buckley belts out the numbers with great conviction (she penned many of the songs with screenwriter Nicole Taylor) and you will be hard pressed to stop those toes from tapping along with the country beat. With its meaningful lyrics, country music dons its tassels and boots. Everything works, and we embark happily on the journey with Rose-Lynn as she makes her own mistakes, discovers her voice and discovers the dream. Stunning.