TAlthough she came to the Philippines from Texas as a child, 17-year-old Rose Garcia (played by emerging Broadway star Eva Noblezada) has been obsessed with country music since she was knee-deep with a grasshopper. Now that her father is dead, she just plays for herself, too shy to share her music even with Elliot (Liam Booth), the handsome guy at the music store. Her mother, Priscilla (Princess Punzalan), a motel housekeeper, is supportive, even though she begs Rose to do her homework first and doesn’t like the idea of Rose going to a concert in Austin with Elliot. But her quarrels over the curfew suddenly seem trivial when Priscilla is arrested by the immigration police and jailed, revealing that neither she nor Rose have the right documentation to make them legal.
As it seems more and more likely that Priscila will be deported, Rose will stay with her aunt Gail (singer Lea Salonga). But Gail’s white-headed husband makes her feel unwelcome, so she ends up being tricked first by a kind bar owner and then by one of the regular bar stars, Dale Watson, here essentially playing himself in a performance one little affected, but charming. With her tutelage, Rose’s songwriting ability begins to flourish.
The bittersweet trajectory of the story is as easy to predict as a chord progression. But, as with country music itself, the goal here is not so much to rewrite the rules of the genre, but to display subtlety in the performance and offer tiny, original adjustments to the formula – for example, making the star a stranger to the environment. usual country music. In a way, the film resembles – in narrative and botanical terms – last year’s Glasgow Wild Rose, which offered a twist to Jessie Buckley as a former inmate who dreams of making it in Nashville. Yellow Rose is less fanciful, more decidedly American in scenery and style, serious, but also a little less interesting – although, from a country perspective, music is better in this film. Noblezada has great tubes and a natural presence on the screen that bodes well for his future career.
• Released in digital format on December 28th.