MOVIE REVIEWS; Wild Rose; Wonder Park; Out of Innocence

Wild Rose (15A)

She’s a prickly one, is Wild Rose (15A). Released from prison as the story opens, Rose- Lynn (Jessie Buckley, from Killarney) has big plans: she’s shaking off the dust of Glasgow and heading for Nashville to become the next big Country music star. There are, of course, a couple of snags, one of which is the ankle monitor Rose must wear for the duration of her parole, and two of which are her young children, Wynona and Lyle.

Forced to take a cleaning job to support her kids, Rose is overheard singing by her new boss, Susannah (Sophie Okonedo), who decides to make Rose’s dream come true.

Written by Nicole Taylor and directed by Tom Harper, Wild Rose offers a storyline as well-worn as the Country songs Rose adores, but does so with verve and compassion.

Buckley is a force of nature, fully inhabiting the role of a free spirit who might be faulted for neglecting her kids — and frequently is, by her mother Marion (Julie Walters) — but who can be forgiven once she starts singing and pouring out her soul.

Brash, feckless and yearning, Rose is the personification of the tunes she sings — she favours neo-Country; the soundtrack features tracks written by Chris Stapleton, Wynonna Judd, John Prine and Emmylou Harris, among others — but while the story aspires to the classic rags-to-riches tale, Nicole Taylor’s script ensures that Rose’s journey is more complex than most fairytales, particularly in terms of her troubled relationship with her mother and her children.

Sophie Okonedo and Julie Walters put in fine performances in the supporting roles, but Wild Rose is very much Jessie Buckley’s film, and she delivers a star-is-born performance, it’s her breakthrough.

Wonder Park (PG)

Wonder Park opens with young June (voiced by Sofia Mali) inventing Wonderland, a fabulous theme park of the imagination, with her Mom (Jennifer Garner).

When her mom falls seriously ill, however, the despairing June puts away her childish things — only to discover, when she accidentally stumbles into the real Wonderland, that her neglect has caused the abandoned park to be besieged by a horde of ‘chimpanzombies’ that threatens to destroy the lives of its mascots, Boomer the Bear (Ken Hudson Campbell), Greta the Warthog (Mila Kunis) and Peanut the Monkey (Norbert Leo Butz).

Can June find inside her the creative light that will allow Wonderland come back to life? Written by Josh Appelbaum and André Nemec — the film, unusually, has no credited director — Wonder Park is an animated film which deals with the symptoms of depression and anxiety.

June is possessed of a manic energy which evaporates into a prolonged funk when her mother falls ill, during which June refuses

to entertain the idea of having fun or using her imagination until she is obliged to do so on behalf of Peanuts, Boomer and Greta. It’s a surprisingly mature exploration that calls to mind the themes that underpinned Toy Story 3 and Inside Out, and reminds us that childhood is a far more complicated emotional experience than adults tend to assume.

The film is by no means seamlessly told — how June manages to find herself inhabiting a work of her imagination is never fully explained — but her journey ‘back to the light’ is exhilarating tale, vividly imagined,

and as appropriately full of ups-and downs as any rollercoaster ride.

Out of Innocence (15A)

Set in 1984, and based on the events of the ‘Kerry Babies’ investigation, Out of Innocence (15A) stars Fionnuala Flaherty as Sarah Flynn, a young woman who is accused of killing her infant child when the body of a baby washes up on a Kerry beach.

Convinced that Sarah is guilty of murder, Detective Callaghan (Alun Armstrong) coerces Sarah and her family into making a confession, and persists in his line of investigation even when a second dead baby appears.

When the story hits the headlines, and a tribunal is announced to establish the facts of the matter, Sarah becomes a cause célèbre for Irish women who rally to her cause…

Written and directed by Danny Hiller, Out of Innocence is a timely interpretation of an especially black period in recent Irish history, not least because the young Sarah Flynn discovers herself arraigned before the full majesty of a malevolently misogynistic coalition of state, church and police.

Fionnuala Flaherty is superb in the main role, offering a brilliantly believable portrait of a young woman so relentlessly browbeaten as to be persuaded of her nonexistent guilt, and she gets very strong support from Fiona Shaw, playing Sarah’s mother Catherine, and Ruth McCabe as Sarah’s aunt Patsy. The storytelling errs on the side of cliché at times – too many of the minor characters are one-dimensional, and there’s too much exposition masquerading as dialogue – but Out of Innocence is a harrowing account of heartbreaking tragedy.

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