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Wild Rose

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Wild Rose Movie Poster Image
Star performance elevates music-focused Scottish drama.
  • R
  • 2019
  • 100 minutes

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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Messages about making the most of second chances, learning from past mistakes, asking for forgiveness, showing gratitude, being kind to (and not taking advantage of) the people you love. Rose-Lynn also realizes that dreams can evolve and that being a country singer doesn't just mean taking one star-studded path.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Despite her flaws, Rose-Lynn learns from her mistakes, tells the truth, is prepared to work hard to follow her dreams and reconcile with her family. Marion models and teaches Rose-Lynn how to parent more effectively and patiently. She's a kind, loving grandmother. Susannah enthusiastically wants to help Rose-Lynn get her voice noticed.

Violence

A woman angrily jumps on a man and starts to hit him.

Sex

One scene of partial nudity (a man's backside) and a sex scene, shot from afar, of a partially clothed couple having sex in a park.

Language

Lots of strong language: "s--t," "f--k" (in various senses of the word), "pr--k," "bastard," "Jesus f--k," etc.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Lots of drinking (with occasional drunkenness) and cigarette smoking. Brief shot of an adult smoking marijuana. A character drinks from her employer's liquor cabinet while on the job. Discussion of Rose-Lynn's apparently unintentional involvement in the heroin trade and how it landed her in prison.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Wild Rose is a British drama about a young Scottish ex-con named Rose-Lynn (Jessie Buckley, in a breakthrough performance) who, with the help of her well-connected employer, pursues her dream of becoming a country singer. There's lots of strong language (mostly "f--k," "s--t," "pr--k"), social drinking (everyone is of age), and cigarette smoking (which is still far more prevalent in Europe), as well as a quick sex scene and kissing. In one brief scene, an adult character smokes marijuana. With its familiar story line ("working-class girl hopes to make it big one day") and messages of redemption, hard work, and gratitude, the movie provides several discussion opportunities for families with older teens. Julie Walters and Sophie Okonedo co-star.

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What's the story?

WILD ROSE follows fiery Scotswoman Rose-Lynn Harlan (Jessie Buckley), who -- upon release from a year-long prison stint -- returns to her council estate home with one dream in her heart: to travel to the U.S. and becoming a country singer. Before facing her mother, Marion (Julie Walters), who's been raising Rose-Lynn's two young children in her absence, Rose-Lynn stops by the home of her friend-with-benefits for an outdoor quickie. The reunion with her mom and kids is awkward, because Rose-Lynn isn't as intuitive with motherhood as she is with singing country (something she used to do at a Scottish pub dedicated to it). Rose-Lynn gets a job house-cleaning for Susannah (Sophie Okonedo), a wealthy mother of two. After Susannah's kids catch Rose-Lynn singing a country ballad while doing the housework, Susannah becomes enchanted with Rose-Lynn's talent and uses her connections to set up a meeting in London with BBC Radio's country music expert. As Rose-Lynn grows closer to her goal of a trip to Nashville to visit the Grand Ole Opry and pursue a professional career, she must come to terms with her shortcomings as a mother and daughter.

Is it any good?

Buckley's standout performance -- including impressive vocals -- makes this British dramedy worth seeing. Lauded for her unforgettable supporting role on HBO's Chernobyl, Buckley is riveting as the larger-than-life Rose-Lynn, who's not always likable (her skills as a mother and a daughter aren't nearly on par with her skills as a country singer) but who audiences will root for nonetheless. She can be self-absorbed and doesn't always think before speaking (as in a cringeworthy but funny scene where she flat-out asks her boss to lend her $5,000), but her voice is so soulful and beautiful -- in the folk/Americana style of Emmylou Harris or Patty Griffin -- that it's clear everyone should be listening to her. Okonedo is well cast as a wealthy but somewhat bored lady of the house who's almost overly eager to help Rose-Lynn, and Walters is subtle but strong as Rose-Lynn's long-suffering mother who's had to step up and raise her two grandchildren. Some of the film's best scenes are soul-baring conversations between mother and daughter.

Director Tom Harper, working off a script by Nicole Taylor, manages to subvert some of the expectations for "a star is born" storylines. The ending isn't the stadium-filled concert or awards-ceremony win viewers might expect from the genre, but it's still satisfying and hopeful -- and, naturally, it showcases Buckley's powerful voice. The soundtrack's beautiful original song, "Glasgow," was written by Oscar-winning actress/singer Mary Steenburgen and is an emotional tribute to the idea that "there's no place like home."

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Wild Rose portrays country music. Why is that type of music so important to the main character? What do you think of it?

  • Discuss the substance use in the movie. Is it necessary to Rose-Lynn's story? What, if any, consequences are there for drinking?

  • Is anyone a role model in the movie? Which character strengths do they display? What role does gratitude play in the story?

Movie details

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