Not quite A Star is Born, but good enough to go to a theater for (Yes, it's not streaming but in what we used to know as a movie house).
Director: Diane Paragas (Brooklyn Boheme)
Cast: Eva Noblezada (Miss Saigon: 25th Anniversary), Lea Salonga (Mulan)
Runtime: 1h 34m
By: John DeSando
Finally, a film that legitimately makes you feel good without burying you in sugar. Rose (newcomer Eva Noblezada) in soulfully good Yellow Rose is a 17-year-old Filipina from rural Texas whose motel-maid mom Priscilla (Princess Punzalen) is about the be a guest of ICE, making Rose a figurative orphan without any backup.
Hidden in Rose’s beautiful spirit is a hankering to sing country music although she first needs to sing for others, not just herself. After she avoids ICE herself, she meets some kind folk who will not only help her have a place to live but also give her a chance to sing.
The strength of this music/drama is that nothing is easy and nothing comes soon enough. When she meets real singer Dale Watson (a white-haired accomplished singer before the camera and in the vibrant world of honky-tonk Texas night life), her epiphany slowly begins.
However, in between meeting Dale, writing a song for him, and singing her first composition in front of a pleasant Dale-centered crowd, Rose has to struggle with mom’s wish for her to come to Manila and her own sense of home already in Texas. The film is strong because it doesn’t amplify the realities and the sentiment; it just lets Rose find her way on her own.
In a way, Jessie Buckley’s Rose-Lynn in Wild Rose as a Grand ‘Ol aspirant mirrors Rose in Yellow, only with more flamboyant songs and melodrama. Both films draw you in to the characters because of the actors’ charm and talent. Yellow Rose has less music and conflict than Wild Rose but a sweeter take on the heroine’s ambition: Although Rose barely registers on the emotion meter, her underlying passion is undeniable.
In Yellow Rose the music is sweet and low, especially when Dale sings (He steals the shot every time—now that’s charisma). Like this gentle drama, Rose bubbles up to the top and stays with you like a simple country song.
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 JohnDeSando62@gmail.com