By Leah Greenblatt
June 21, 2019 at 10:00 AM EDT
Neon

The first thing Rose-Lynn (Jessie Buckley) does when she gets out of prison is pull a pair of white leather cowboy boots over her ankle monitor; the second thing she does, before visiting her two young kids, is stop by a boyfriend’s house for a quickie.

Even without the tattoo that reads “three chords and the truth” on her forearm, her life is already the stuff of a thousand outlaw-country songs. And when she grabs hold of a microphone, the pure, twangy soul of Nashville pours out. It’s just fate—or bad geography—that’s landed her approximately 4,000 miles east, in Glasgow. 

If Wild Rose feels at first like Scotland’s scrappy answer to A Star Is Born, it’s saved from overfamiliarity by a welcome swerve in the final reel, and the visceral, raw-nerved life force that Buckley (Chernobyl) radiates in nearly every frame.

Her Rose-Lynn is nobody’s sweetheart; she’s a drinker and a fighter, spiky and sulky and stubbornly proud. Almost compulsively self-sabotaging, too, whether she’s antagonizing her long-suffering mother (Julie Walters) or gaming the wealthy woman (Sophie Okonedo) she cleans houses for.

Director Tom Harper (War & Peace) aptly conveys the single-mindedness that a life of art requires, and the double standard applied to the women who pursue it at the cost of other, seemingly more essential things. But it’s Buckley, wild and free, who makes the movie sing. B

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