Yellow Rose is the debut feature-film by Diane Paragas about a talented teenage undocumented Filipino girl living in America, with dreams of becoming a country music star.
The film starts out as a sweet story about Rose who doesn’t fit in – looking different from her peers and having an overprotective mother – but who has a special talent and secret dreams. Yet, quickly the plot takes a dramatic turn as we discover Rose and her mother have been living as illegal immigrants. Her mother is abruptly taken away by immigration enforcement one night while Rose attends her first country music gig, forcing her to live with an estranged Aunt whose husband clearly doesn’t want her there.
Rose eventually flees her Aunts house and works a myriad of jobs to support herself as she figures out her path in life. Eventually she is taken under the wing of musician Dale Watson, playing himself, who helps her realise her talent and grow into a performer. By the end of the film, Rose feels like a woman who can look after herself and has the confidence and life experience to tell her story to a crowd through her music.
This is an important film that gives an authentic and heart wrenching portrayal of American immigration authorities tearing a family apart who are only seeking a better life for their children. At the heart of this story is Rose’s hero’s journey as she lives the American dream by grafting her own career in country music.
Broadway icons Eva Noblezada and Lea Salonga star as Rose and her Aunt Gail, and bring exquisite truth and undeniable chemistry to their characters. Noblezada’s voice does not disappoint, and her performances of the country music numbers are stunning. Fans of Gaga’s recent A Star Is Born will love this.
The cinematography is notably good, with a consistent vintage feel, set in the sweeping plains of the South and the colourful town of Austin, Texas.
Apparently Paragas adapted this film from her short of the same name. This explains why the plot can feel slow at times and drags. The catalyst and crisis appear very early on when Rose’s mother is arrested, but after there is a lull where not enough action unfolds to warrant the length of the movie.
Nevertheless, this is a well-made film that is to be commended on it’s inclusivity and it’s provocative subject matter whilst being a heart-warming coming of age story.
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