(director/writer: Tom Harper; screenwriter: Nicole Taylor; cinematographer: George Steel; editor: Mark Eckersley; music: Jack Arnold; cast: Jessie Buckley (Rose-Lynn), Julie Walters (Marion), Sophie Okonedo (Susannah), Jamie Sives (Sam), Ashley Shelton (Roanne the Waitress), James Harkness (Elliot), Gemma McElhinney (Nurse), Daniel Campbell (Football Fan), Craig Parkinson (Alan);Runtime: 101; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Faye Ward; Neon; 2018)
“Impressive musical drama.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Brit TV & film director Tom Harper (“War Book”/”Peaky Blinders”) films this impressive musical drama with style and perfect execution. It’s written with an edge by Nicole Taylor. Jessie Buckley (the Irish actress) gives a sensational performance as the talented twentysomething fiery redheaded Glasgow songstress Rose-Lynn Harlan, who is on a ‘take no prisoners’ mission to become a Nashville country star and escape her dead-end life.
The spirited working-class Rose-Lynn has recently been released from a UK prison (serving a year for heroin possession) and the unwed mom upon her release has a problem supporting and dealing with her two youngsters (Wynonna (Daisy Littlefield) and Lyle (Adam Mitchell). She receives no moral support from her cynical mum, Marion (Julie Walters), who took care of the kids while Rose-Lynn did her time and now scoffs at the idea of her daughter making it as a country singer.
The ambitious Rose-Lynn recklessly tries to get into the business anyway she can: not bashful about using people, feigning phony friendships or lying. She’s so self-absorbed, she can’t give her lovely kids the love they yearn. But her luck changes when at her job as a house cleaner for the well-off suburban living, Anglo African, culture loving Susannah (Sophie Okonedo). Rose-Lynn manages to convince the benevolent Susannah to become her advocate and she sponsors Rose-Lynn’s voyage to Nashville by crowd-funding it at a party that raises money for her.Rose-Lynn is so selfish, troubled and complex, she can’t face the truth about herself. She has her life motto tattooed on her right arm: “Three chords and the truth,” and fights with all she has to fulfill her dream to be a country star.
The star-is-born movie theme relates well to the heroine’s pains and dreams to be a country star no matter what, which is a familiar mantra for the country music world to connect with.
The film’s best asset is the star who gets into the head of her character and has the chops to play her in an authentic way, while singing lights out (Buckley co-wrote a few of the original songs with Taylor)
REVIEWED ON 7/17/2019 GRADE: B+ https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/