Yellow Rose Movie Review
Yearns For The Elusive American Dream
Standing out with its refreshingly poignant plot, multi-award-winning film by Filipino-American writer, Diane Paragas, Yellow Rose incorporates the unlikeliest of elements: country music, riveting drama and political fundament into one coherent cinematographic masterpiece; an orchestra in itself that rightly reaps the standing ovation and critical acclaim from different parts of the globe.
Shining bright, standing out
With the taste of country music served by an Asian character, as its aperitif, the movie is unlike anything you’ve ever seen as it defines itself through singing: the relentless pursuit of dreams in the midst of dauntingly cruel realities, the casualties of immigration as its centerpiece. Yellow Rose boasts of a world-class lineup of Filipino performers already serving up authenticity to its story. On top of the impressive cast is California-born Filipino Broadway Star, Eva Noblezada, portraying the role of Rosario “Rose” Garcia. Miss Noblezada who received a 2017 Tony Award nomination for her performance as Kim in a Miss Saigon revival.
It is also top-billed by Princess Punzalan, who was a seasoned actress back in the Philippines as Priscilla Garcia, the mother of Rose in the film. Another character in the film, Gail Garcia, was brought to life by the one and only Lea Salonga, the Philippines finest musical performer, a recipient of the 1991 Tony Award for “Best Actress In a Musical” as Kim in Miss Saigon. She also became the Laurence Olivier Awardee for “Best Actress in a Musical” in the years 1989 and 1990.
Adding to the scintillating lineup is Dale Watson, a renowned American country singer in real life who gets to play himself in the movie. Watson takes Rose under his wing after she and her friend, Elliot Blatnik (portrayed by up and coming actor, Liam Booth) meet him at a bar in their first night in Austin. From its title alone, one can already decipher its scent; Yellow Rose evokes the often-dramatic pursuit of the American Dream in the midst of uncertainty, and in this story, it’s the reality of persistent, politically charged perils
Hitting high notes with political undertones
This film shines the spotlight on Rose Garcia’s life as an undocumented Texan teen trundling through life with fragile security that shatters when she finds her mother arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials. Directly portraying how many foreign-born seekers of opportunity continue to be treated like hardened criminals, one of the most pivotal scenes of the film was when Rose meets local country music legend, Dale Watson and the stars finally aligned for her, only for it to be the prelude to what was truly a harsh twist of fate, the reality of what was always looming in the background, the an ICE raid and the arrest of her undocumented mother, Priscilla.
This very scene was the portent of Rose’s unique journey, catapulting her through the darkness of the night with only stars of yellow lighting her path, possibly pointing that in the end of it all was the light, the achievement of her dreams, and possibly redemption for herself and for her mother.
What makes “Yellow Rose” a cut above the rest is the element of racial discrimination and the threat of being deported back to a country she barely remembers. The stakes are higher, and it makes the perilous journey toward the fulfillment of her talent’s promise all the more worth it. The dramatic arrest of Priscilla Garcia was a bit exaggerated and what was more realistic was the element of Rose’s aunt, Gail, who was married to a wealthy white American and who did not seem riveted to help Rose and Priscilla at all through such a daunting plight. Indeed, the reality here was the lack of interest for many other Filipino-Americans in genuinely aiding out others who try to make it in this country.
As you move towards the end, there was no direct closure given on how Rose could possibly move forward through the hostile reality but as a concern that makes its spectators wanting more, her story has just began, and that the movie was able to achieve in showing the humanity of what happens when families get separated. The movie was an ode, a prayer to restore the dignity of immigrants who vie for their own version of the American Dream. The lines of the song, “Square Peg,” poignantly elegant with its words presents the heart of the movie,
“ I never fit in, never could win. Though I tried and tried, this feeling don’t end. I feel out of place, sung out of tune. Like a velvet chair in a dusty saloon.”
This movie is laudable with its excellent writer and director, and of course, its actors and for for offering something so exceptionally fresh yet close to home, stirring the embers of one’s deepest sensibilities that only immigrants will ever truly understand.