A teenager showing her passion for country music and trying to pursue her career whilst facing some everyday obstacles she needs to overcome would in, and of itself, make a nice film about how chasing a dream isn’t easy but that is not our story today. As if that weren’t dificult enough, Yellow Rose follows a 17-year old undocumented Filipina who grew up in a small town in Texas and fell in love with country music. Though she is incredibly talented, her citizenship status keeps her from following the road to stardome, but Rose knows her situation and has resigned herself to a life no different than that of her mothers: a life cleaning up for others at the motel where they live. That is the safe and sure pass for a shy Texas girl with no stable footing in this land that rejects her. One unfortunate encounter with ICE changes everything and launches her down a path of fear, loneliness and uncertainty as she is forced to face the world alone for the first time.
Writer/director Diane Paragas definitely embedded some of her life and experience into the storytelling, especially considering she is a Texas raised Filipino herself. You could feel the care put into the project having clearly been something that was close to Paragas’ heart. That much to me is undeniable and is something that elevated the film even though I had some issues with it.
Eva Noblezada delivers a strong performance showing her capabilities as the quiet awkward and talented titular teenager with the voice of an angel. The rest of the ensemble cast is made up of Dale Watson, Liam Booth, Princess Punzalan and Lea Salonga, who all helped bring a sense of authenticity to the film. The story is made richer by the interactions our character has with all of these characters but a downside I had with the film is in the fact that we introduce all of these subplots but never fully explore any of them. Just when we get close to someone it feels like they are taken away somehow. This is an issue that really weakened the film and attributed to a less than satisfying conclusion.
Though nothing to write home about, the cinematography was well executed in outdoor sequences and the lighting helped in highlighting the instability of Rose’s life. The Score and original songs assisted in giving the lovable feeling of climbing up and nearly reaching the stars. The lyrics were fun, deep and poignant as they enhanced the story and the emotional journey our protagonist endures.
Yellow Rose is a much needed film that reminds everyone that we are surrounded by people that might be living in sorrow and pain. A film to resonate with dreamers of all kinds. Those looking to pursue their dream job as well as those simply hoping to be recognized one day as citizens so they no longer have to live persecuted and haunted by fear. It’s an example portrayal of the lives so many minorities live with today. Praying and praying for a better day to come. This film is truly the stuff of country songs!