She’s Gotta Have It

Sorry for the late post. I fell asleep after an eventful Monday and clean forgot to finish writing it.

But better late than never, right? And here we are this week chilling with sexually liberated Nola Darling as she juggles three demanding men and a divine Brooklyn apartment. I know which one I’d keep around.
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The Lovebirds

This week I thought, why not see out our loosely themed Mental May with a film picked solely on it’s central pairing? We do what we want on our blogs and if we want to watch a Rom Com starring Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani then we will.

How can it fail, honestly?

The Lovebirds (2020)

A couple experiences a defining moment in their relationship when they are unintentionally embroiled in a murder mystery.

Directed by: Michael Showalter
Starring: Issa Rae • Kumail Nanjiani

*Spoilers*

Leilani: You literally spent several hours yesterday writing a negative Yelp review, with your white woman fingers, about that tapas place we went to, and I thought it was pretty tasty.

Leilani (Rae) and Jibran (Nanjiani) have been together for four years. Like most, they bicker a fair amount, mostly about social media usage and whether they’d win The Amazing Race (Leilani is convinced they would, Jibran – not so much). On the way to a dinner party they mutually agree to split up, throwing pretty mean barbs at one another in the process.

And that’s that – so let’s all lament our past lost loves and head home, eh? Sike!

Obviously we’re here for an adventure and since one of Leilani’s major relationship gripes is Jibran’s inability to be spontaneous, it seems things are about to get a lot faster and a lot looser, just to fuck with them. Distracted by their argument, Jibran runs a red light and hits a cyclist. In the following kerfuffle, the pair are then carjacked by an undercover police officer chasing after the very same cyclist. The pair almost enjoy the action until they catch up with ‘Bicycle’ who’s brutally run down by the cop and then reversed over a couple of times. In their car.

When the cop – ‘Moustache’ – disappears and the (former) couple are cornered by a couple of witnesses hellbent on citizen’s arrests, they’re faced with a dilemma: should they stay or should they go? Jibran thinks they should hand themselves in, while Leilani reasons that nobody will believe their story and anyway, racial profiling will ensure they’re locked away forever.

Now officially on the run and in possession of Bicycle’s phone, Leilani figures their only option is to try and work out what the fudge is going on so they can exonerate themselves with the feds. Reluctantly, Jibran agrees and so begins a comedy of errors as the ex-lovebirds meet a cornucopia of colourful and dangerous characters, uncover a most unsavoury middle-class sex cult (although Leilani doesn’t strictly hate it), dodge bullets, pump perps for information, evade the police – and maybe, just maybe, fall back in love?

Jibran: It was very salty. I didn’t know I would get mouth-f***ed by the Dead Sea! And I don’t have white woman fingers. I’ve got meaty bronze.

Thoughts

I’m not going to take us through every single strand of this caper but I did enjoy myself. The dialogue is nice and snappy – and it’s genuinely charming in places. I’d expect nothing less in the hands of our leads, who are ridiculously attractive and likable. I really love the back of the cab scene where Leilani tricks Jibran into singing ‘their’ jam – Firework by Katy Perry.

The general malaise near the end of a relationship is very relatable and there’s a true sadness to it. Luckily, there seems to be a little hope left for our pair who have obvious unfinished business. I’m pretty sure my business would never be finished with Kumail Nanjiani, just saying.

This plot has been used a lot so it’s not exactly a game-changer in that respect but it’s more self-aware than its counterparts and not so white washed as – as an example – Did You Hear About the Morgans?. I am here basically for any stories that don’t just centre around privileged white people (like me).

The Lovebirds is fun, good-looking and sweet but it probably isn’t going to be the most memorable movie of the year, and I don’t really have much more to add.

UPDATE: Just one more thing. It doesn’t ring at all realistic that the two of them would get away from the police that easy. The comments regarding racial profiling make sense, given horrific current events and white privilege since forever, so why then when they finally face the detectives on the case, is it all so “We just wanted to make sure you were okay/course you didn’t do it.” It’s all a bit too fairytale ending and, well, tone deaf.

My Rating

3.5/5

Does it pass the Bechdel Test?

You know I don’t think it does? The only conversations I remember between two females were about men. Happy to be corrected though.

What does my love bird think of this one? Would she go on an epic one night adventure with it, or turn it over to the cops at the first opportunity? Find out here.

The Art of Self-Defense

I can no longer pretend we’re on track with this month’s theme. We’ve gone way off and I’m not even mad – we’ve been having a pretty good time of it too, even if our protagonists haven’t always.

This week’s pick is no different as it sees our timid central character enter the world of karate in order to arm himself against a cruel and toxic world.

The Art of Self-Defense (2019)

After being attacked on the street, a young man enlists at a local dojo, led by a charismatic and mysterious sensei, in an effort to learn how to defend himself from future threats.

Directed by: Riley Stearns
Starring: Jesse EisenbergImogen Poots

*Spoilers*

Casey: That’s right. I found out your real name is Leslie. I called you that to make you angry. When you think about it, Leslie is a lot more feminine sounding than Casey.

TW: Violence and violence against animals

Casey is a nervy accountant who doesn’t appear to play well with others. To be fair, his colleagues are the worst and since he doesn’t go around talking about burning down their boss’ house or take magazines full of boobs into the workplace, he’s never going to be one of them. One evening on the way home from the store, he’s brutally attacked by a gang on motorcycles. They leave him severely beaten and more frightened of the world than ever.

He considers buying a hand-gun but puts this off when he discovers the local dojo, where he meets Sensei (Alessandro Nivola). Also present at the school is Anna (Poots), a brown belt who has no time for pleasantries, though it is about to become very clear why. Also, why should she? Following his first try out session, Casey is sold on signing up for classes and finally facing his fears.

It’s not long before he earns this yellow belt though this puts more pressure on him. When he fails to break a wooden board during class, he tries to give the belt back to Sensei, who is forced to give him a stern talking to. When asked what his deal is, Casey admits to the mugging and makes it clear he is scared of the world and more specifically, other men. He states that he wishes to become the very thing that terrifies him.

Careful what you wish for, yo.

Sensei, I should have said before, is a strict man with very firm views on what constitutes ‘masculine’. When he first learns Casey’s name he comments on how ‘feminine’ it sounds. He asks him what music he likes, and when Casey replies, tells him he is wrong and that he should only like metal. Warm and fluffy he is not – and he lives by a very specific set of rules – which includes; no shoes on the mat, no food and drink, and guns are for pussies. He also lives in awe of the late great Grand Master, whose framed photo he bends the knee to.

Casey is invited to the much-coveted night class by Sensei who also tells him to stop being so scared – like it’s all just a choice. At work, when he finally returns after two months off, Casey assaults his boss (and friend) Grant by punching him in the throat – finally gaining the approval of his alpha male workmates. At home, he starts learning German (as opposed to the ‘weaker’ language of French) and tells his dog (the most adorable Dachshund) that he will no longer be coddling him. He secretly laments the fact that he isn’t a wolf: a real man’s pet.

At night class – essentially Fight Club – Casey realises that the stakes are much higher when a new pal has his arm broken for defying Sensei. That night he also witnesses Anna – the only female student – beat the living shit out of classmate Thomas (Steve Terada). He assumes this is because she has been overlooked for a black belt over Thomas but she later explains it’s much more than that. Casey meanwhile, is starting to wonder if he’s bitten off more than he can chew. (Yes dear, you definitely have).

When Sensei offers him an accounting role at the club, following his recent unemployment, Casey becomes even more embroiled in his new lifestyle. Sensei calls him one night to tell him he’s found one of the guys who attacked him – and he’s encouraged to exact his revenge. He’s not at all sure they have the right guy but he attacks him anyway, leaving him for dead. Sensei videotapes him during the act, apparently to document his growth.

Casey’s misgivings grow stronger when he returns home to find his dog badly injured (I HATE THIS)*. The emergency vet tells him the little guy fought to the end but was eventually killed by a foot punch to the ribs. Casey confronts Sensei, who denies he had anything to do with it, especially since they were together when it happened.

Well, from here it all goes batshit as Casey is recruited to join the rest of the dojo on a mission to target people walking alone at night. On motorcycles… Hmmm.

How will Casey respond to this twist of fate?

Thoughts

This was a good movie but it was way darker than I expected. Which made it better honestly. It’s a study of the damage the patriarchy does, not only to women but to men too – and I appreciate it.

All the performances were great but particularly from Eisenberg, who I almost always enjoy but don’t really like. I warmed way more to this character than most maybe because I felt his pain. Men scare me too and it’s refreshing to ponder this view from a male perspective.

While this is a very male movie it also examines Anna’s position in such a toxic environment. As the only woman she has been permitted to teach the little kids because all women have maternal instincts, but she will never make black belt. She is better than every one of the class and yet is forced to hold back for fear of emasculating them. At one point, Sensei has her massage Casey and apologises for her having ‘weaker hands’ than a man.

When she explains how she earnt her red stripe to Casey – for taking a life – she tells a horrific story about sexual assault and victim blaming, which will surprise precisely nobody. I must admit I’m also relived that, although the pair form a friendship of sorts, there isn’t a sniff of romance.

This movie is very good at observation. It starts well with a little vignette into Casey’s personality: he’s sitting alone in a diner when two tourists enter and – conversing entirely in French – proceed to slag off their surroundings, the coffee and then Casey. Little do they realise: our protagonist is fluent in the language himself.

It is peppered with small comedic moments that made me smile and at times, feel sad and incredibly mad. Casey is a heartbreaking character who embarks on an intriguing arc that ultimately teaches him that becoming the thing he fears is not really what he wants after all.

Can he assert himself without becoming like Sensei?

Alternative film poster by The Commas

My Rating

4/5

Does it pass the Bechdel Test?

It’s not on the ‘list’ but it doesn’t pass. This is a very male/masculinity driven flick with only one female character with no other women to talk to.

What does Wifey think of TAOSD? Would she award it a coloured belt or punch it with her foot? Find out here.

*I found this awesome site while writing this review: very useful to have if you’re a horror/thriller/action fan.

Weekly Digest #2

Some of the things I’ve been digging in quarantine.

The Normal People adaptation

I loved the book which I finished just in time for the live-action version. It’s wonderful so far with Marianne (Daisy Edgar-Jones) and Connell (Paul Mescal) perfectly cast. It’s just very emotional, has completely nailed the tone of the book and it looks gorgeous.

It’s both trippy and satisfying to see it come to life on the screen and for it to be so close to how I imagined it. I had planned to pace myself but am already half way through the 12 part series. I can’t seem to stop watching it.

I absolutely recommend both formats of the story and hope you love it as much I as do.

Vivarium

A young couple looking for the perfect home find themselves trapped in a mysterious labyrinth-like neighborhood of identical houses.

Gemma (Imogen Poots) and Tom (Jesse Eisenberg) find themselves living a life they never wanted when they visit the housing development Yonder, an apparently sought-after neighbourhood for young home buyers.

I won’t say too much but this is a very eery, oddball sci-fi parable that wouldn’t be out of place in the Black Mirror series. I didn’t really see where it was going and although the ending is bleak AF, it was interesting to see it unravel. Poots is particularly good as Gemma, a woman saddled with the role of mother to a very strange little boy indeed.

After Life, Season 2

I was loathe to include this because I am not exactly a Ricky Gervais fan but honestly, I can’t stand by the notion of not being embarrassed about the things we like if I don’t include it. I love this show, rinsed it in a day and cried through every single episode, without fail.

The premise of the first series was Tony (Gervais) struggling with suicidal thoughts and anger following the passing of his wife Lisa (Kerry Godliman) to cancer. Season 2 picks up with Tony still grieving but learning to find meaning in his life again, which is easily done really when you look around.

Tony relives memories from his life with Lisa via home videos and it kills me every time. Much as I hate to say it, RG is a talented writer and when he’s good, he’s very very good. Support from Mandeep Dhillon, Penelope Wilton and Roisin Conaty doesn’t hurt – and honestly, massive points for the (mostly) sex-positive representation of Roxy’s chosen profession (sex worker).

I can’t pretend I love all of it, I hate Paul Kaye‘s therapist (I get I’m supposed to) and I could definitely do without the fat jokes. Call it a problematic fave, if you will. I hope there’s another season.

Writing Letters

I’ve been enjoying writing letters since we went into lock-down. There’s just something so satisfying about slipping pretty envelopes into the postbox addressed to friends in your best handwriting. It’s also really lovely to receive things in the post. It reminds me of a simpler time.

What are you digging?

Yeh Ballet

While the world is literally falling apart at the seams, this film is sweet in the purest way imaginable and it made me do a little weep at the end.

Who knows what the Collab’s theme is this month? I suggest it’s just surviving, one film at a time – and with movies like this, we might just make it.

Yeh Ballet (2020)

Discovered by an eccentric ballet master, two gifted but underprivileged Mumbai teens face bigotry and disapproval as they pursue their dancing dreams.

Asif (Achintya Bose) and Nishu (Manish Chauhan) are two gifted dancers who have one thing in common – they have nothing. While they share a similar underprivileged background, the similarities pretty much stop there. Asif is a street urchin who runs with a rough round the edges crew, while Nishu is a minor reality star – a fan favourite on a televised dance show.

Asif partakes in (rather dubious) public dance battles by day and moonlights as a thief by night. One day his brother, who works at the Mumbai School of Dance, excitedly reveals that world-renowned dancer Saul Aaron (Julian Sands) is coming to teach there – and is looking for talent to nurture. While Asif joins the class, his attitude stinks and his heart isn’t really in it.

Even so, crotchety old Saul really rates him and recognises his natural talent. Asif’s friends however don’t think he’s anything special and rib him for being a sissy boy. This leads them to row and ends with our boy pulling out last minute from a big job they’ve planned.

Nishu, in contrast, is more wholesome but no more fortunate. He struggles with Saul’s favourite student Asif but is determined to train hard at the old ‘balley’. Befriending classmate Neena, Nishu gets private dance lessons at her home but flees when he overhears her family chastising her for hanging out with someone who may be infected with germs from the ghetto. Charming.

Nishu’s family aren’t the most understanding either and focus most of their time on his sister, who isn’t in the best health. When his father catches her watching a video of his TV performance, one he presumably didn’t know about, he kicks Nish out. He ends up living in the basement of the school in very basic conditions.

While Nish gets to grips with his new living arrangements, Asif learns that the job his friends went on without him went horribly wrong, and one of his pals was killed in the fracas.

This leads him to do some soul-searching and luckily for Saul that means he’s decided to dedicate himself fully to dance. And he’s only a tiny bit distracted by the mysterious dance battle babe he’s recently met…

Well the boys slowly begin to bond and find themselves equally pitched in the eyes of their mentor Saul, who’s determined to make them stars.

But will they overcome the prejudices of their families and their lack of resources to get to the land of opportunity?

I’ll let you find out the rest but it’s a beauty – and the final climactic dance performance is breathtaking.

Thoughts

This is not unlike Billy Elliot in India tbh and that’s a good thing. While our Billy didn’t have religious considerations, he was no stranger to be mocked for his dreams or living on the breadline. That’s a pretty lazy comparison isn’t it?

I liked this a lot. I liked it for the chemistry between Asif and Noah, on and off the dancefloor. I liked it for being so simple and heartwarming.

Sure it’s annoying that it takes a white man to swoop in yet again to save the day. Julian Sands has always been something of an in-joke in our house for his work on the seminal masterpiece Boxing Helena and he’s not the greatest as Saul. He’s downright repugnant actually and although there’s an arc as he learns to respect the boys, I just couldn’t warm to him.

But I’m willing to overlook these things for all the good. Maybe it just got me at exactly the right time, who knows?

4/5

What does my life partner think of this one? Would you sweep it of its feet on the dance floor or leave it on the sidelines? Find out here.

Horse Girl

This week we examine serious mental illness with Alison Brie… or is it something even more complex than that – like aliens or time-travel?

One thing’s for sure, you’ll likely leave this without answers and that’s okay. I say just enter this one with an open mind and ride it to your own conclusions.

Horse Girl (2020)

A socially awkward woman with a fondness for arts and crafts, horses, and supernatural crime shows finds her increasingly lucid dreams trickling into her waking life.

Sarah (Brie) is shy and awkward AF, therefore supremely relatable. She works in a craft store by day and loiters around the sofa by evening, soaking up episodes of her favourite supernatural show.

So far so ordinary, except Sarah isn’t really ordinary. She has very lucid dreams at night, that are bit by bit leaking into her everyday and it’s not long before she’s convinced herself that something is definitely up with that.

Mostly alone or hanging around her old horse, who now belongs to someone else, things look up a little when Sarah’s roommate Nikki (Debby Ryan) – tired of her being around the flat all the time – fixes her up with her boyfriend’s mate Darren (John Reynolds). The pair hit it off in their mutual oddness.

Meanwhile, Sarah dreams about people she’s never met but then sees in real life and wakes up in odd places, losing chunks of time she can’t account for. She becomes convinced she’s being visited by aliens which eventually jeopardises her fledging romance, and alienates her from Nikki and her work colleagues.

All this is extra worrying given the history of both her mother and grandmother, who both lived with severe mental health issues, with her mother dying by suicide. But is Sarah breaking down in the same way or is there truth to her theories? Also – could she really be her grandmother transported through time into this reality (since they look identical)? Hmmm.

When Sarah ends up seeking help in a medical capacity, she meets another girl who speaks of the same experiences. Is this validation?

Thoughts

I’m finding it quite hard to encapsulate this interesting indie flick. Which is kind of the point. Mental illness, loneliness, depression – none of these are exactly linear or easy to define.

Who knows what’s real and what isn’t? All I know is that the concept of going through all this as a person with mental health challenges is fascinating. What if it’s real but you’re someone who isn’t always trusted by others, and who doesn’t particularly trust yourself either? It’s a terrifying thought.

In the end it doesn’t really matter and the ambiguous ending won’t tie it all up for you. There’s lots of debate on the internet about it though which is worth a read.

Alison Brie wrote the screenplay following her own experiences and she’s bloody great as Sarah. I really just wanted to her be okay and respected by those around her and there are times I really felt for her, particularly when she’s scared and naked in her workplace.

I’d say it’s definitely worth a go and is quite a realistic look at living with these issues, though obviously I have little experience of schizophrenia, or alien abduction for that matter. It’s funny at times, respectfully handled and sweet – and I liked it.

4/5

What does Wifey think of this one? Well, there only one way to find out as she gives her views, much more succinctly, here.

Four more films

A few words on what I’ve been watching at the local multiplex.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Based on the true story of a real-life friendship between Fred Rogers and journalist Lloyd Vogel.

I loved this and I don’t mind admitting I was caught off guard by how much. As a UK dweller, there’s not much I know about Mr Rogers but Tom Hanks brought him to life up there on the big screen, and with an edge too.

But this tale is more about Vogel, and his inner rage and deep sorrow. A feud with his absent father has him emotionally damaged and unable to move on, which is kind of a problem now he’s a brand new dad himself.

When he’s sent to interview Mr Rogers for a fluff piece, things escalate and the big man’s infinite kindest and patience (or so it seems) bring out the truth. Can Vogel move on? And is Mr Rogers for real?

Well, I cried like a baby for most of this – it’s deeply beautiful and although Rogers isn’t the central focus, Hanks nails his scenes. Matthew Rhys is wonderful too with excellent support from Chris Cooper. My favourite film so far this year and in a season full of bangers, that’s no mean feat.

4/5

Queen & Slim

A couple’s first date takes an unexpected turn when a police officer pulls them over.

Wow. What a ride! Absolute babe Daniel Kaluuya teams up with Jodie Turner-Smith in this modern day Bonnie and Clyde story – and I was in 100%.

That makes it sound much lighter than it actually is though – and light on subject matter this is not. We’re dealing with deep-seated racism, police brutality, revolution – and it’s beautiful. Shocking still, unsurprising, brutal – there’s a lot to unpack.

Queen (Turner-Smith) and Slim (Kaluuya) enjoy a slightly awkward date that probably isn’t destined to lead anywhere. Except, on the drive home, the pair are pulled over by a prejudiced (white) cop. You can see where this going.

When the situation escalates, with Queen injured and the pig dead, accidentally, at Slim’s hand – we’ve got ourselves a couple on the run. And so begins a dramatic road trip as Queen & Slim find themselves the unintentional poster children for black power. Will they make it to safety and crucially, is this even love between them?

This is a sexy film, with dynamite leads to root for. It’s heartbreaking, angry, simple, stunning and everything about it slaps hard. I really enjoyed the caustic Queen and everything about the dialogue between them. There’s a line Slim utters when Queen asks him what ‘Ride or die’ even means:

‘I just want someone that’s always going to love me. No matter what. Someone that’s going to hold my hand and never let it go.’ ~ Slim

It’s perfect.

4/5

Parasite

A poor family, the Kims, con their way into becoming the servants of a rich family, the Parks. But their easy life gets complicated when their deception is threatened with exposure.

This is the film I was most looking forward to during awards season. Bong Joon Ho already won me over years ago – uh, hello Memories of Murder – so I knew I’d be in for a treat. Not to mention the fact it’s a rarity for non-white, non-american movies to get a look in on most awards lists and I was excited to see how it would be received.

Parasite is spot on. Dark and twisted, sure but funny too. The plot just keeps giving, rendering you speechless at points, devastated at others and hoping against hope for a happy ending. Mostly it examines the South Korean class system and compares the life of two very different families: the haves and the have-nots.

In a nutshell, the Kims are barely getting by. Living dejectedly in a poor neighbourhood, doing what they can to feed and clothes themselves, fortune changes when son Ki-woo scores a tutoring gig for a wealthy family: the Parks.

It’s not long before the rest of the Kims – sister Ki-jong, and mum and dad Ki-taek and Chung-sook – have secured well-paid positions within the family too. But things take a batshit turn when a usurped former member of staff shows up one rainy night… and that’s all you get from me. 

I loved this so much – it’s the director’s second best film – and I am beyond stoked it swept the board at the Oscars. It’s just a shame none of the incredible actors were even nominated.

Stand-outs for me are, of course Joon Ho regular Kang-ho Song, the flawless Yeo-jeong Jo who plays the Park’s gullible but lovely matriach – and So-dam Park who plays the Kim’s daughter Ki-jong. Housekeeper Moon-gwang (Jeong-eun Lee) pretty much steals the show though.

Wonderful.

5/5

Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)

After splitting with the Joker, Harley Quinn joins superheroes Black Canary, Huntress and Renee Montoya to save a young girl from an evil crime lord.

Last but by no means least, it’s fun times with Miss Harley Quinzel. Honestly this was a total trip from start to finish. I laughed a lot, absolutely relished the aesthetic and loved the soundtrack. This is everything Suicide Squad should have been but could never.

Sure, there’s not that much to it. Harley (Margot Robbie) has broken up with the Joker (good riddance), and she’s letting go and moving on. Except being the Joker’s girl affords a certain immunity, a safety from the consequences of her erratic actions and without that, Harley finds all her nemeses crawling out of the woodwork, ready for payback. Including would-be king pin Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor).

But Harley’s nothing if not resourceful and she cuts a deal with Roman to find a very valuable diamond that’s been nicked by a young pickpocket. Along the way she also meets the mysterious Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), nightclub songstress and badass Dinah Lance (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) – and criminally underappreciated cop Renee Montoya (the legend Rosie Perez). 

Will girl power out when Roman turns on them all? Well what the fuck do you think?

I want to watch this all over again because it’s actually good, which is credit to its female director (Cathy Yan) and female writer (Christina Hodson) – AND producer Robbie. It’s so refreshing to see strong, sexy women on the big screen who aren’t being solely sexualised. It’s the difference between Zack Snyder directed Wonder Woman and Patty Jenkins directed Wonder Woman. Anyway, I want more please.

5/5 for fun alone

What are you watching?

Wild Rose

February generally means one thing round these parts: feminist films. I guess by now it doesn’t really need all that much of an introduction so I’ll keep it simple. This month is Feminist Film Month – and uh, it’s all about women.

Wild Rose (2018)

A troubled young Glaswegian woman dreams of becoming a Nashville country star.

*Spoilers*

Rose-Lynn (Jessie Buckley) has just been released from clink for doing something dubious with a bag of heroin. She’s a live-wire alright, as evidenced by some vigorous shagging in the park as soon as she’s freed. Second stop is her mum Marion’s (Julie Walters) house where her two children have lived every since she was incarcerated.

The children, understandably, are wary around their mother and Marion is a little chilly herself, again with good reason. Rose it seems has only one thing on her mind – Nashville. She’s a talented country singer see, something nobody can dispute – not her fellow inmates, her on/off lover nor her mother – and all she wants is to make it big in country music’s capital.

But responsibility is waiting in the wings and she has little choice but to knuckle down for the time being – not least because of the 7am-7pm ankle bracelet curfew. Rose reluctantly takes a cleaning job for a successful family and forms a friendship with mother Susannah (Sophie Okonedo), who instantly falls in love with what she’s selling, which is raw talent and humour. Needless to say, Rose has been economic with the truth and fails to mention prison or even that she has children. Uh oh.

Meanwhile, our girl’s messing up left and right with her kids, failing to keep important promises. Marion gives her short thrift but Rose seems destined to make the wrong choices and further alienates her family when Susannah comes up with an ingenious crowdfunding idea to finally get her to Nashville. A project that corresponds with half term holiday plans.

When things don’t quite work out – Susannah’s husband uncovers the truth about Rose and tells her he doesn’t want her around his wife or children anymore – Rose panics and vows to rein in her dreams for good.

But what is life without a dream? Dull as dishwater obviously and Marion misses the fire in her daughter. When Rose finally gets the chance to visit Nashville to walk where her heroes have walked before – what’s a girl to do?

Thoughts

This was very lovely but a hard watch in some places. Rose does not settle into her groove easily and it’s very frustrating. She’s not always likeable – there’s an entitled air to her that really grates and sometimes you just want to scream at her to stop being so fucking selfish, to hug those fucking kids every once in a while – and appreciate her mother more.

But life is ugly and hard – dreams are all well and good – but what if you’ve been dealt a different set of cards? Sometimes you’ve gotta face up to reality. The question is: is Rose up to it?

I really like the message of this, that there’s room for both reality and dreaming, and also that dreams don’t come for free. Sometimes they look different to how you’d expect which doesn’t necessarily make them worth any less.

I loved the friendship between Susannah and Rose – and you bet your arse I cried when she showed up at the end. While Susannah is obviously better off materially than Rose, she manages not to be patronising when she offers her help and thankfully, remains non-judgemental where it really counts. Sophie Okonedo is so fucking dreamy too.

Marion is also a steely, gorgeous woman – someone I would never wish to disappoint if she was in my life. In fact, when isn’t Julie Walters the Queen of everything?

I don’t know that much about Jessie Buckley but I do know she’s popping up all over right now and I’m quite pleased about it. She won my heart eventually as messed up Rose and I’m into her voice. That final song filled up this sentimental old fool’s heart to bursting point.

4/5

What does my wild rose think of this one? Would she push it toward its dream no questions or stifle it forever? Find out here.