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The young woman who turns sheets at the local motel has a story, and it might be more remarkable than her menial chores suggest. The new film Yellow Rose tells such a story—an unpretentious, heartfelt tale about a Filipina teen who writes country songs in her Texas motel bedroom.
Rose’s life takes a dire turn when immigration officials arrest her mother (Princess Punzalan). To stay in America, Rose (Tony Award nominee Eva Noblezada) must keep one step ahead of immigration agents. She relies on friends who dare to give her food and shelter. One of her stops is a bar frequented by country musician Dale Watson (playing himself), who recognizes Rose’s talent. She’s never been ambitious about a music career, and he’s wary of committing to her long-term. Noblezada and Watson wrote and perform some of the film’s songs.
Director Diane Paragas unfolds the story with a slow tenderness that accentuates Rose’s desperation and fragility. The film (rated PG-13 for strong language and teenage drinking) succeeds by favoring the journey over the destination. Rose finds that friends and inner determination give hope, but her road to fulfillment absent any thought of God left me sad. I suppose that’s the stuff of a country song.