We meet Rose-Lynn (Jessie Buckley) the day she’s released from prison and she doesn’t exactly strike us as the picture of reformation. She’s greedy, selfish, a bad mother, a bad daughter, a terrible employee, and doesn’t have an ounce, not one ounce of contrition or personal responsibility for the crime she was put away for. Rose-Lynn cares for only one thing: an escape to Nashville, where she’ll be able to pursue her dream of country singing. But Rose-Lynn lives in Scotland, born in the wrong corner of the world, she thinks. Who ever heard of a country singer from Glasgow?
Rose-Lynn is an anti-hero of sorts, hard to like, harder to root for. But you cannot deny her talent. Not even you don’t like country music – stripped down, “three chords and the truth,” raw and unfiltered, Rose-Lynn is a Voice and Jessie Buckley a real revelation.
Julie Walters really props her up as a long-suffering mother and grandmother tired and weary of her daughter’s constant excuses. Sophie Okonedo is luminous as a supportive employer turned friend and booster, playing 50 and looking not a day over 28. Even the kid actors manage not to fuck up the good vibes going on in the film. But the truth is, this is very much Buckley’s movie to make or break, and she proves that she isn’t just a great singer but a talented actress. Her expressions are as good as entire country songs written onto them, just unguarded heartbreak.
The script is very good, taking a circuitous route to where it’s going but enjoying the journey there, and making sure we do as well. The structure is as admirable as almost anything else, everything falling into place as if this was the only way it ever could. A bit of genius, really, in a movie that already contained genius of another sort.
I wasn’t always sure I was going to like this movie, and then I fell violently in love with it.