Review by Mark Salisbury
In contrast to Lady Gaga’s Ally in ‘A Star Is Born’, the wannabe singer at the centre of this sparky and hugely likeable zero-to-musical-hero country fable is frequently her own worst enemy.
On parole, working-class Glaswegian single mum Rose-Lynn Harlan (Jessie Buckley) is desperate to kickstart her dream of making it in Nashville, whatever the cost to family and friends. Country music, proclaims the gobby singer, is ‘three chords and the truth’ – a mantra she’s had tattooed on her arm. While blessed with talent and ambition, what she doesn’t have is the cash for a plane ticket. A job as a cleaner for Sophie Okonedo’s wealthy stay-at-home mum helps, but Rose-Lynn’s self-destructive tendencies – as evidenced by her fractious relationship with her despairing mum (Julie Walters) and her two young children – keep getting in the way.
Buckley, so good in serial-killer thriller ‘Beast’, is sensational here. A gifted singer-songwriter (she co-wrote most of the songs), her committed performance wrings every drop of raw emotion from her scrappy, flighty rebel in white cowboy boots and an electronic ankle tag. Director Tom Harper wisely stands back and lets his star shine. And she burns up the screen, whether singing or not. Walters and Okonedo offer fine support, while Nicole Taylor’s script is heartfelt and honest, striking few bum notes en route to the crowd-pleasing musical finale. You will cheer. You will cry. You may even tap your toes. The film’s terrific, Buckley remarkable. A star is born? More like a supernova.