Music drama, R, 101 minutes, Center for Contemporary Arts, 3 chiles
We agonize a lot these days over whether the private life of an artist or public figure disqualifies said person from an appreciation of his or her work. Do we care if Michelangelo molested little boys or Picasso cheated on his mistresses? Must we shred our Michael Jackson records, or bump Peter Yarrow from the concert stage?
Rose-Lynn ( Jessie Buckley, Beast) is no monster, but she’s not a particularly admirable person. When we meet her in her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland, she’s just getting out of prison. She stops off for an al fresco boff in the park with her boyfriend before going home to see her two kids, 7-year-old Wynonna (Daisy Littlefield), and 4-year-old Lyle (Adam Mitchell), whom she barely knows. Rose-Lynn left them with her mother Marion ( Julie Walters) while she did her time on a drug charge. She has a prickly relationship with Marion, who thinks it’s time her daughter grew up, accepted responsibility, and gave up her dream of going to Nashville and making a splash as a country singer.
The thing is, she can sing! And this comes to the attention of Susannah (Sophie Okonedo), the wealthy woman whose house she cleans. Susannah takes an interest in her and puts herself out on a limb to try to help Rose-Lynn realize her dream. And of course, she gets burned.
Will Rose-Lynn make it to Nashville? Will she become a star? Will she grow up? Director Tom Harper and screenwriter Nicole Taylor have a few tricks up their sleeves, some of them familiar and some surprising, in what looks at first to be a straightforward star-is-born fable.
A dream in the heart of a person with the talent to back it up is a tough flame to quench. And Buckley sells that dream and possesses that talent in abundance. Her character is not very responsible, but her selfishness and carelessness are mitigated by her charm and her passion. Buckley’s performance is captivating and gives the movie a strong claim on your time and your good wishes. And Walters, an actress who can do no wrong, is there to provide sage and welcome backup when Rose-Lynn gets to be a little too much to take.