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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Aug 31, 2021



‘YELLOW ROSE’ is an American release directed, produced and co-written by Diane Paragas, a Fil-Am documentarist and this is her debut  narrative feature film. 

It stars Fil-Am actress-singer, Eva Noblezada, born to a Pinoy dad and Hispanic mom in California but grew up in North Carolina. 

She was discovered when she played Kim in the revival of “Miss Saigon” in London and Broadway.

In “Yellow Rose”, Eva plays Rose Garcia, a 17-year old girl living with her widowed Pinay mom, Priscila (Princess Punzalan), in a room in a cheap motel in a small Texas town, where her mom works as a cleaner and frontdesk clerk. 

They’re illegal aliens and when her mom is arrested by immigration agents, they get separated.

Luckily, the night the raid happened, Rose is out on her first date with a friend, Elliot (Liam Booth), who works at a guitar store. 

He took her to watch the show of Dale Watson (a real life country singer) in Austin and it was a happy date cut short by her being traumatized when she sees her mother being ruthlessly dragged away by law enforcers.

Her mom has instructed her in a letter to ask help from her Aunt Gail (Lea Salonga), who her mom has not talked with in years (we’re never told the reason why they got estranged.) 

 Aunt Gail accommodates Rose for a while but her white husband asks her to throw out Rose. 

 She then seeks the help of Jolene (Libby Villari) , the owner of the bar where they watched the show of Dale Watson. Jolene is nice to her and gives her a place to stay. She meets Dale Watson again and he’s also very friendly to her. 

When the bar is also raided and the other immigrants are arrested, Rose manages to sneak away and finds help in Dale who believes in her talent as a singer, so they collaborate in writing songs together.

The movie is a very much scaled down version of “A Star is Born”, without the romance angle. 

It ends with Rose being given by the good-hearted Dale the chance to sing with him on stage. And we just hope her journey to being a successful country singer will start from there. 

Eva Noblezada’s earnest and committed performance as Rose carries the film through. 

Uncowed by fear or anger, she remains in charge of her own life and she easily gets our sympathy. We really want to cheer for her and wish that she and her mom, also she and her love interest, Elliot, will all have a good future ahead of them.

The movie has many good songs, like the final song "I Ain't Going Down" and it also tries to delve into the nightmares encountered by undocumented migrants in America, 

like opportunistic lawyers who prey on migrants just get their hard earned money, the dehumanizing treatment they get from immigration officers and the harsh realities about the myth of pursuing the American dream. 

If you’re a big fan of the country music genre, the songs here will also be a great treat for you. In an interesting bit of casting, it’s nice to see the original 1989 Kim, Lea Salonga, appearing here as Eva’s aunt. 

For a while, we were waiting for them to do a duet of the “Miss Saigon” song “I’d Give My Life for You”. 

We remember that after Lea’s stint on Broadway, she also tried mainstream acting and did a movie with John Lithgow, “Redwood Curtain”, where she played a Vietnamese girl. She also appeared as a guest in the then popular TV series, “E.R.” 

This is the way Eva’s going now (she also appeared in a “Law and Order” episode) and we hope she’d get more assignments now that Asians are getting more and more exposure in Hollywood films and TV shows. 

Unlike Lea, though, who was already in her 30s when she got married, Eva got married early to an American actor then quickly got divorced about two years later.

In “Yellow Rose”, Eva gives an intense and heartfelt portrayal of the title role and there’s no doubt she has great vocal pipes singing a lot of original songs in the film. 

Princess Punzalan gives excellent support as her over protective mother while singer Dale Watson does a great job of playing himself and Rose’s self appointed godfather and mentor. 

Paragas’ deft direction succeeds in interweaving Rose’s struggle as a singer-songwriter and the poignant plight of illegal aliens without resorting to mawkish sentimentality.