Jessie Buckley Julie Walters Sophie Okonedo
Ah, the struggle of making it in life after having two kids before age 18 and serving a jail sentence, but also nursing a burning desire to make it big in country music when you live in Scotland. A tall order! Rose (Buckley) is just such a girl who seems not to have much, but is richly blessed with a mother (Walters) who is far from indulgent but provides a loving home for Rose’s children when she is away. Upon returning home, Rose finds her children distant—another challenge—and no means of supporting herself, much less her children as well.
She gets a job cleaning for a local woman of means, Susannah (Okonado), who comes home unexpectedly to find Rose vacuuming and singing at the top of her lungs. She immediately recognizes that Rose has talent, and begins to help her in pursuing her dreams.
But psychologically Rose is not ready. And this is the sobering part of her story. She has come upon adulthood without much education, training, or even coaching on practical matters. Furthermore, she has a serious issue with self-esteem. We sympathize with Marion, Rose’s mother, in wishing and waiting for Rose to connect with her children. When she doesn’t right away, Marion takes a “tough love” approach and exits the home, with the hope that Rose will figure out and accept her most important responsibility of being a mother. But this is exactly when Rose is pursuing a singing career, so things get pretty hairy.
Will Rose step up to the plate with her children? Will she fulfill her dream of getting to Nashville and become a famous country singer? The beauty of the film is in its treatment of these apparently conflicting issues, demonstrating that choices have to be made by individuals, which have long-term consequences. What it works out in this case seems to me a sensible resolution that takes into account both dreams and responsibilities.
Director Tom Harper and writer Nicole Taylor have a good grasp of the psychosocial parameters in such a human story and treat them with a sensitive touch. However, I wish they had provided more of a back-story to Rose’s and Marion’s lives, to enrich and make more understandable their current circumstances.
Jessie Buckley is likely to be a rising star in entertainment with both musical and acting talent. She makes her character be appealing, spunky, vulnerable, or aggressive, depending on the circumstances. Julie Walters is her usual lovely, attractive maternal figure whose assertiveness waits for the right moment to arise before lowering the boom. Sophie Okonedo exemplifies culture with elegance and soul, and I was grateful the filmmakers remained loyal to that persona.
An inspiring look at a music star in the making with significant hurdles to overcome.