See it before it goes away: Wild Rose

Jul 15, 2019

It's an indie you shouldn't miss even if you haven't heard about it.

Noteworthy Musical Drama: Wild Rose

Grade: A

Director: Tom Harper (Aeronauts)

Screenplay: Nicole Taylor (Three Girls)

Cast: Jessie Buckley (Beast)

Rating: R

Runtime: 1 hr 41 min

By: John DeSando

“Three chords and the truth” -- slogan on Rose-Lynn’s arm (Jessie Buckley)

By the time I reached the end of this musical drama, Wild Rose, I wanted much more of lead Jessie Buckley playing an aspiring country singer from Glasgow. I never got what I wanted because this flip-side of a Star is Born is relentlessly real (the “truth” of the slogan above) as much about her aspiration as her first-class talent.

Wild Rose is about the challenges a single mother-of-two must face with this enormous singing talent bursting out of her. One of her challenges is putting her two children before her hope because she does not come easily to selflessness. Where other musical stories emphasize the talent, this story emphasizes the responsibilities any human will have entering the rarefied competition for music.

Happily, the film rarely meets formulaic expectations: At each turn expectations are subverted in favor of a non-romantic slice of reality. Yesterday, Rocket Man, Bohemian Rhapsody, and even A Star is Born, fulfill the dictates of successful Hollywood musical romances. Not this Glasgow slice of life.

If you’re into fantasy only, see it anyway if just to witness an otherworldly performance, say, Lady Gaga without the hype. This is your friendly critic giving a word to wise cinephiles: See it.

John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at