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Wild Rose is easy to admire but surprisingly difficult to like 

Wild Rose                                                                        Cert: 15, 1hr 40 mins 

Rating:

Wild Rose is about an aspiring Scottish singer from the wrong side of the tracks who dreams of travelling to Nashville to find country music fame and fortune. In other words, it’s A Star Is Born, only with a Glasgow accent, a slide guitar twang and no Bradley Cooper.

It’s easy to sum up this Tom Harper-directed picture like that, and you can sense that its makers saw the comparison coming. But in their determination to give us something conspicuously different, they’ve ended up delivering a stubbornly uncompromising film that is easy to admire but surprisingly difficult to like.

The clue is all in the first word of the title, because Rose-Lynn Harlan – played by singer, actress and former I’d Do Anything talent-show contestant Jessie Buckley – is no man-pleasing wallflower. 

Wild Rose is about an aspiring Scottish singer (Jessie Buckley) from the wrong side of the tracks who dreams of travelling to Nashville to find country music fame and fortune

Wild Rose is about an aspiring Scottish singer (Jessie Buckley) from the wrong side of the tracks who dreams of travelling to Nashville to find country music fame and fortune

Yes, she may celebrate her release from prison by stopping off for sex and a smoke with a very peripheral boyfriend, but straight after it’s on with doing what she does best – being loud, in your face and her own worst enemy.

My goodness, she’s a difficult young woman to like, let along love, and that’s before we discover she’s an accomplished liar, a casual thief and has problems both with alcohol and anger-management. 

At times, glaring out from a heavy fringe, she looks more like a petulant child than a single mother-of-two. Yes, that’s right, Rose has two children more accustomed to being looked after by their grandmother (a particularly good Julie Walters, Glasgow accent and all) than they are by their own preoccupied mother.

Rose-Lynn is a difficult young woman to like and that’s before we discover she’s an accomplished liar, a casual thief and has problems both with alcohol and anger-management

Rose-Lynn is a difficult young woman to like and that’s before we discover she’s an accomplished liar, a casual thief and has problems both with alcohol and anger-management

Rose-Lynn, you see, has eyes only for the main prize – becoming a country music star. ‘Why country?’ asks the wealthy Susannah (Sophie Okonedo), who takes Rose-Lynn on as her new ‘daily’ and rather improbably quickly becomes convinced of her new employee’s singing talents. 

‘Because it’s “three chords and the truth”,’ replies Rose-Lynn, quoting a famous explanation of the genre’s appeal.

Plot-wise, Susannah is also handy, as she just happens to be the sort of well-connected friend who knows someone who knows someone who knows Bob Harris, the host of Radio 2’s Country Show

Susannah (Sophie Okonedo) just happens to be the sort of well-connected friend who knows someone who knows someone who knows Bob Harris, the host of Radio 2’s Country Show

Susannah (Sophie Okonedo) just happens to be the sort of well-connected friend who knows someone who knows someone who knows Bob Harris, the host of Radio 2’s Country Show

A return train ticket to London and Rose-Lynn is surely on her way. Although anyone with even a basic knowledge of country music will know it can’t possibly be that simple.

Full marks to Harper, screenwriter Nicole Taylor and lead producer Faye Ward for serving up a feisty female lead who isn’t defined by her relationships with men, and to Buckley for gamely delivering on their vision. 

Rose has two children more accustomed to being looked after by their grandmother (a particularly good Julie Walters) than they are by their own preoccupied mother

Rose has two children more accustomed to being looked after by their grandmother (a particularly good Julie Walters) than they are by their own preoccupied mother

But, in the process they also serve up a story without any romantic love whatsoever.

And for a film that should be standing comparison with the likes of Crazy Heart, there’s also a surprising shortage of good ol’ country music. This is a film with only two big musical moments – one served up in the brief Nashville section, which feels manufactured, while the other – apparently written by actress Mary Steenburgen – is belted out in Glasgow and, thankfully, is a real humdinger.

Definitely no standing by your man here.

 

ALSO OUT THIS WEEK

Hellboy (15) 

Rating:

On paper, this reboot of the once rather enjoyable Hellboy franchise runs for 120 minutes, but in the confines of the cinema this ill-judged mash-up of Arthurian legend, Scouse-accented giants and the almost inevitable sexy but evil sorceress feels much longer.

The American actor David Harbour steps into the role that Ron Perlman last played more than a decade ago and conspicuously fails to make the part his own, hampered by a wordy screenplay, endless explanations and a painful shortage of genuinely funny lines. 

The American actor David Harbour steps into the role that Ron Perlman last played more than a decade ago and conspicuously fails to make the part his own

The American actor David Harbour steps into the role that Ron Perlman last played more than a decade ago and conspicuously fails to make the part his own

Some dodgy visual effects don’t help either.

British director Neil Marshall sets the bulk of the action in the modern-day UK, where giants are laying bloody waste to the New Forest, and the long-dismembered Nemue, aka The Blood Queen (Milla Jovovich), is waiting for someone to put her body parts back together so she can do very bad things.

Thank goodness Hellboy (brought to life by devil-worshiping Nazis) and his adopted ghoul-hunting dad (Ian McShane) are around to help. Loud music and an awful lot of swearing fail to disguise the obvious shortcomings.

 

Mid90s (15) 

Rating:

Jonah Hill – he of Superbad and Wolf Of Wall Street fame – makes his debut here as a feature director and serves up a real surprise, albeit of the low-budget variety. Yes, this is funny, foul-mouthed and politically incorrect by 21st-century standards, but it’s beautifully acted by its young cast and has an infectious, low-key charm.

Set in Los Angeles in the decade of the title, it’s the story of Stevie (Sunny Suljic), a small, young-looking 13-year-old who is regularly beaten up by his aggressive older brother (Lucas Hedges) and neglected by his thirtysomething mother (Katherine Waterston). 

So when he finds a gang of older, cooler skateboarding dudes, he thinks he’s found his place. But these guys smoke, drink, hang out with girls…

There are some creative ill-judgments along the rites-of-passage way but a really good soundtrack eases the pain.

 

Wonder Park (PG)

Rating:

This mess of a children’s cartoon is about a theme park that initially exists only within the imagination of a little girl then gets built on a back-garden scale with the help of her friends

This mess of a children’s cartoon is about a theme park that initially exists only within the imagination of a little girl then gets built on a back-garden scale with the help of her friends

This extraordinary mess of a children’s cartoon is about a theme park that initially exists only within the imagination of a little girl then gets built on a back-garden scale with the help of her friends, only (apparently magically) to become completely real, rusting and under relentless threat from marauding ‘chimpanzombies’ and something called ‘the darkness’. 

Even a voice cast that includes the great Tom Baker can’t save it. 

 

Little (12A)

Rating:

Tina Gordon is fast becoming the queen of reworking old favourites. Having helped turn What Women Want into What Men Want, she’s back – this time directing as well as writing – turning Big on its head and coming up with, er, Little, which sees a bullying software boss (Regina Hall) magically returned to her 13-year-old body by a wand-wielding child she’s upset. 

It could be funny – despite the best efforts of Issa Rae as her much-put-upon PA – but it really isn’t.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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