BAFTA named Jessie Buckley as one of their “Rising Stars” for 2019, and here she proves why. Buckley plays Glaswegian Rose-Lynn Harlan, a decidedly wild child electronically tagged and released from the clink but straight down to some very public cowgirl sex with her erstwhile boyfriend. Only then does she have the afterthought of going round to the house of her Mum (Julie Walters) where two young children live. For Rose-Lynn is a single mum of two (#needs-to-be-more-careful-with-the-cowgirl-stuff), and the emotional damage metered out to the youngsters from her wayward life is fully evident. A really great movie to watch.
Rose-Lynn is a frustrated ‘country-and-weste’… no, sorry… just ‘western’ singer, and she has a talent for bringing the house down in Glasgow during a show. The desire to ‘make it big’ in Nashville is bordering on obsession, and nothing – not her mum, not her children, nothing – will get in her way.
Rose-Lynn has no idea how to make her dream come true. (And no, she doesn’t bump into Bradley Cooper at this point). But things look up when she lies her way to a cleaning job for the middle class Susannah (Sophie Okonedo) who sees the talent in her and comes up with a couple of innovative ways to move her in the right direction.
Will she get out of her Glasgow poverty trap and rise to fame and fortune as a Nashville star? Rose-Lynn is not an easy character to like. She is borderline sociopaths and has a self-centred selfish streak a mile wide. As she tramples all over her offspring’s young lives, breaking each and every promise like clockwork, then you just want to shout at her and give her a good shaking. Now remember you can free download the movie from here. It’s a difficult line for the film to walk (did the ghost of Johnny Cash make me write that?) and it only barely walks it unscathed.
A key shout-out needs to go to director Tom Harper (“Woman in Black 2”, and the TV epic “War and Peace”) and his cinematographer of choice George Steel. Some of the angles and framed shots are exquisitely done. A fantastic dance sequence through Susannah’s house (the best since Hugh Grant’s No. 10 “Jump” in “Love Actually”) reveals the associated imaginary musicians in various alcoves reminiscent of the drummer in “Birdman”. And there are a couple of great drone shots: one (no spoilers) showing Rose-Lynn leaving a party is particularly effective.
The camera simply loves Jessie Buckley. She delivers real energy in the good times and real pathos in the bad. She can – assuming it’s her performing – also sing! (No surprise since she was, you might remember, runner up to Jodie Prenger in the BBC search for a “Maria” for Lloyd Webber’s “Sound of Music”). She is certainly one to watch on the acting stage.
Supporting Buckley in prime roles are national treasure Julie Walters, effecting an impressive Glaswegian accent, and Sophie Okonedo, who is one of those well-known faces from TV that you can never quite place. BBC Radio 2’s Bob Harris also turns up as himself, being marvellously unconvincing as an actor! But I don’t like country music you might say? Frankly neither do I. But it hardly matters. As long as you don’t ABSOLUTELY LOATHE it, I predict you’ll tolerate the tunes and enjoy the movie. Followers of this blog might remember that – against the general trend – I was highly unimpressed with “A Star is Born”. This movie I enjoyed far, far more.