‘Wild Rose’ Stuns as Montclair Film Festival’s Opening Film

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Jessie Buckley as Rose-Lynn Harlan in “Wild Rose.” (Photo courtesy of Montclair Film Festival)

Rose-Lynn Harlan is contagiously fearless, charmingly honest and an undeniably captivating country singer.

But, she’s also a terrible mother of two, in denial about having to take responsibility of them after serving a year-long stint in prison.

In an electrifying tale of an aspiring country singer from Glasgow, Scotland with a dream of making it in Nashville, “Wild Rose” follows Harlan’s inner struggle of being a constant disappointment to her children as she fights to become a star.

In front of a packed house, “Wild Rose,” directed by Tom Harper and written by Nicole Taylor, kicked off the 2019 Montclair Film Festival on Friday, May 3 at the Wellmont Theater in Montclair, New Jersey.

The film starred Irish-born Jessie Buckley as Rose-Lynn Harlan, named the 2019 MFF Breakthrough Performer.

Jessie Buckley attends the premiere of “Wild Rose” during the opening night of the Montclair Film Festival. (Photo by Brian Ach/Getty Images for 2019 Montclair Film Festival)
“She’s incredibly human,” Buckley said of playing Harlan, during the Q&A session following the screening. “She’s complicated and conflicted. I definitely felt like what I learned from her was her courage, her tenacious courage that broke down boundaries of the four walls that she was told that she was allowed to dream in, she ran towards it with all her gospel… I just loved her.”

The film begins with Harlan getting released from prison and returning home to her eight-year-old daughter and five-year old son, who had been staying with her mother, Marion, played by Julie Walters.

The mother daughter dynamic between not only Harlan and Marion, but between Harlan and her young daughter, is tension-filled and utterly heartbreaking. Throughout the film, Harlan knows she is letting her family down, but refuses to put her dream of making it big in Nashville behind her.

When she gets a job as a maid for a wealthy family, the woman of the house, Susannah is charmed by Harlan’s wit and passion for music, and decides to help her. The dynamic between their friendship is inspiring and heartwarming, as Susannah can’t help but only see the good in Harlan, even when Harlan can only see the bad in herself.

Throughout the film, Buckley’s singing of several country tunes is an absolute joy. Even more impressive is the fact that Buckley had never sang country music prior to her role in the film.

“I didn’t really like it to be honest… now I’ve just completely fallen in love with it,” Buckley admits.

In the film, Harlan boasts a tattoo that reads, “Three chords and the truth,” an ode to why she loves country music in the first place  a mantra that stuck with Buckley.

“[Country music] has really taught me an awful lot because it’s incredibly simple, in the heart of these incredible songs are these characters and these people who are telling incredibly humane stories about their life,” she said.

In just her second film, Buckley, a former musical theater school reject, absolutely stuns as the complicated role of Rose-Lynn Harlan and left the Wellmont audience in awe of her wonderfully talented voice.

The Montclair Film Festival continues with screenings throughout the week, closing out on Sunday, May 12.

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