‘Yellow Rose’ inspires beauty and empathy when we need it

The music of "Yellow Rose," written by Dale Watson and director Diana Paragas, pulls the entire film and its emotion together.
The emotional coming-of-age “Yellow Rose” follows an undocumented Filipino girl’s fight to keep her only home while finding herself through her first love, country music. This film shows the heartbreak and cruelty of what many undocumented families fear on a daily basis.

When Rose Garcia and her date arrive home from Austin’s famous country bar, The Broken Spokes, to the dismal road stop motel where she and her mother live, she sees ICE agents dragging her mother away in handcuffs. Rose runs away and spends the film jumping from one false sense of security to the other.

The fictional owner of The Broken Spades, Jolene, offers refuge as room and board in exchange for working at the bar to Rose, played by twice Tony-nominated Broadway actress Eva Noblezada. Her talent quickly catches the attention of famous country singer Dale Watson, who plays a version of his real-life self, and he takes her under his wing. After a close call during an ICE raid at the bar, Dale lets Rose stay with him, and they work on a demo for Rose. At the same time, Rose must decide whether she wants to stay in America and risk deportation or return to Manila with her mom.

Anybody who knows me knows I am not a country music fan, but I was pleasantly surprised by the film’s quality music. It pulled everything together–the story, the characters–and it wasn’t forced. Eva Noblezada has a beautiful, almost angelic and youthful voice. When Dale Watson, an older man with a grittier voice, sings with her, it just creates pure musical magic. Dale Watson and Diana Paragas, the film’s director and one of the screenwriters, wrote the original songs for the film.

The music itself conveys Rose’s isolation growing up in a small Texas town. “Square Peg,” a song she continually works on, tells her whole journey throughout the film. Along with “Quietly Into the Night,” sung with Dale, the music relates a powerful, empathetic message.

Eva Noblezada successfully gave Rose a sense of depth and youthfulness. She has shown the talent of a Broadway starlet can translate to talent on the silver screen. In her character’s darkest moments, Noblezada shined. When she sings the songs into which Rose pours her soul, the emotion is palpable.

The film was just released in theaters, although it made rounds in several diverse independent film festivals in 2019. I recommend seeing this film because it is a beautifully told story that’s politically relevant without shoving this year’s election down your throat. You will laugh and cry, and you will leave the theater with a little more empathy for the struggles of others.

About Author

Jordan Jones was hired as the Culture reporter for the Mesa Legend in January of 2020. She is in her second semester at MCC, and she plans to transfer to ASU and get an Interdisciplinary Studies degree in Film Study and Art History. With her degrees and passion for cinema, Jordan intends to become a film archivist.

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