Danny Boyle and Himesh Patel talk about Yesterday.
‘Wild Rose’ is more than just an underdog story about a single mother with Nashville dreams—it’s a breakout movie for its star. Our review.
It’s a standard-issue plot: A young, single, Scottish mother of two, recently paroled from prison, harbors dreams of country-music stardom in Nashville. Don’t be fooled. Wild Rose is anything but the same old underdog story. And chances are you’ll fall fast and hard for breakout star Jessie Buckley. This classically trained Irish singer and actress was a runner-up on a BBC singing competition and won roles in film (Beast) and TV (War and Peace, HBO’s Chernobyl). She’s a skyrocketing talent — and the full range of her gifts are on display here.
As 23-year-old Rose-Lynn Harlan, an untamable bundle of impulsive energy, Buckley lets it rip. The ex-con is a comet slowed in her flight by a court-ordered ankle bracelet, an interfering mother (Julie Walters), and self-destructive tendencies with both drugs and men. Working from a script by Nicole Taylor, director Tom Harper makes a few by-the-numbers stops with Rose-Lynn getting it on with boyfriend Elliot (James Harkness) and showing little aptitude for mothering her children, who are five and eight years old. Fortunately, the script takes an intriguing twist by focusing not on the men in Rose-Lynn’s screwed-up life, but on the women who challenge and provoke her. Walters is reliably superb as Marion, the mother who’s tired of taking shit. It’s Marion who pushes Rose into a housekeeping job for Susannah (the outstanding Sophie Okonedo), a free-spirited Brit whose Scot husband (Jamie Sives) has put her and their two young kids in a pumpkin shell that looks like a mansion. It’s Susannah and the kids who hear Rose singing around the house and decide she’s star material.
They’re right. The movie knows it. And you’ll know it, too. Harper directs a terrific scene of Rose-Lynn singing as she cleans house, backed by an imaginary band scattered around the premises.. Buckley can sing country like a honky-tonk angel (she also co-wrote most of the songs) and her stage presence is electric. She’s a hellraiser on stage and off, preferring not to pour herself a whiskey when she can swill it right out of the bottle. Rose-Lynn’s voice is as emphatic as her strut in white cowboy boots and fringed leather jacket. But it’s the way Buckley digs into the bruised soul of her character that makes her incandescent.
Rose-Lynn’s country goal seems out of reach until Susannah sparks a crowd-funding project to send her to Nashville and the film sets us up for the usual rags to riches finale. That things don’t happen that way is a tribute to the creative team behind Wild Rose. If country is, as Rose-Lynn says, “three chords and the truth,” she is slow to accept the harsh realities about herself and incorporate them into her music. But when she does, sneaking onto an empty stage at Nashville’s fabled Ryman Auditorium (former home to the Grand Ole Opry) to sing a capella, prepare for an emotional wipeout.
Taron Egerton talks to Simon about Rocketman. Plus the UK Box Office Top 10 and Mark reviews the week’s new films including Rocketman, Booksmart, Aladdin, Ad Astra and The Secret Life Of Pets 2.
Mike Leigh’s films have always been first and foremost about people. He makes incredibly rich and detailed character studies, famously conducting his actors through months of improv work before he even sits down to write a screenplay. Somehow, that’s been the case even when he’s occasionally tackled famous historical subjects, like 19th-century Romantic painter J.M.W. Turner. Topsy-Turvy recounts the creation of The Mikado, but everybody on screen, from Gilbert and Sullivan themselves down to the smallest member of the ensemble, registers just as vividly as do the wholly invented characters in Naked or Secrets & Lies.
That’s what makes Leigh’s latest effort such an anomaly. Peterloo doesn’t deliberately skimp on character, but it’s the first of his movies in which no inividual makes much of an impression, and each one is fundamentally subordinate to the larger event being painstakingly chronicled. “Peterloo” is the nickname given to a massacre of unarmed civilians by cavalry soldiers that occurred on August 16, 1819, at St. Peter’s Field in Manchester. (Just as we now strip the “Water” from Watergate for every similar scandal, they stripped the “Water” from Waterloo, suggesting an equivalent to Napoleon’s then-recent bloody defeat.) Eigtheen people were killed in the melee, with hundreds more injured; the movie builds to the horror, eventually showing just what happens when men on horseback charge into a crowd with their swords drawn and start indiscriminately slashing at people who are just trying to get out of the way.
To his credit, Leigh is less interested in the massacre itself than he is in the series of political machinations that inexorably led to it. His challenge: That’s an incredibly dry subject—England’s equivalent of Ben Stein droning on to Ferris Bueller’s classmates about the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act. Here, the proximate cause of all the trouble is tariffs imposed on imported grain, known as the Corn Laws; widespread dissatisfaction with these laws, which benefited wealthy landowners at the expense of everyone else, resulted in demands for parliamentary reform.
Peterloo makes an effort to demonstrate how this affected a typical Manchester family, opening with one weary soldier (David Moorst) returning home from Waterloo and subsequently becoming semi-radicalized as a result of the deprivation. Mostly, though, the film consists of public meetings at which organizers bellow things like “The object of Parliament ought to be the general good, the equal protection, the security of the person and property of each individual, and therefore labor—the poor man’s only property—ought to be as sacred as any other property!” That sort of rhetoric almost always gets exhausting in a hurry (even MAGA-heads who wait in line all day to see Trump free-associate often leave early), and it represents a sizable chunk of this lengthy film’s first hour [ . . . ]
Read more at AV CLUB: For a movie about a famous massacre, Mike Leigh’s Peterloo is very dry
Samantha Morton and Daniel Mays star in Tom Beard’s beautifully shot drama about a fateful trip to the seaside
Tom Beard is a British photographer and filmmaker, here presenting his debut feature: a confident, good-looking, heartfelt film in the pastoral social-realist style, with strong performances from an excellent cast, including Samantha Morton and Daniel Mays. There are some lovely images and ambient moods conjured by cinematographer Tim Sidell, and, with editor Izabella Curry, Beard creates a plausible rhythm to his story, moving from a tough urban estate to an almost idyllic looking seafront and back. Continue reading