Rambling Rose (1991)



Critic Consensus: A touching. bittersweet, and wonderfully-acted film.

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Movie Info

Rambling Rose is the most part a flashback, related by grown-up Southerner Buddy Hillyer (John Heard). The bulk of the film takes place in 1935, when rambunctious backwoods housekeeper Rose (Laura Dern) virtually invades the Hillyer household. Daddy Hillyer (Robert Duvall), a bed-rock Southern gentleman, welcomes the congenitally amoral but basically goodhearted Rose into his house, carefully fending off her ill-timed romantic advances. But Rose can't help feeling smitten with him; meanwhile, she has also drawn the attentions of 13-year-old Buddy (Lukas Haas). Based on the novel by screenwriter Calder Willingham, Rambling Rose was not the box-office breakthrough that many expected for director Martha Coolidge; though it fizzled financially, the film did manage to secure Oscar nominations for both Dern and her real-life mother Diane Ladd.
R (nudity)
Comedy , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Live Home Video


Laura Dern
as Rose
Robert Duvall
as Daddy Hillyer
Diane Ladd
as Mother
Lukas Haas
as Buddy
John Heard
as Willcox
Kevin Conway
as Dr. Martinson
Lisa Jakub
as Doll Hillyer
Evan Lockwood
as Waski Hillyer
Robin Dale Robertson
as Young Salesman
Dale Robertson
as Young Salesman
Michael Mott
as Man in Store
Richard K. Olsen
as Chief of Police
James Binns
as Minister
Jeffrey Smith
as Stand-In
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for Rambling Rose

All Critics (18) | Top Critics (6)

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | September 7, 2011
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | March 25, 2009
Top Critic

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | June 23, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

No excerpt available.

May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

It's a beauty.

May 12, 2001
Rolling Stone
Top Critic

Willingham, who also scripted Paths of Glory, Little Big Man and The Graduate, wrote Rose in the early 1970s. Thanks to these sterling performances almost two decades later, his screenplay enjoys a fresh and tender blossoming.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Washington Post
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Rambling Rose

Rambling Rose is the definitive Laura Dern performance. I particularly like mother-daughter performances as there is often additional sizzle to fictional work and Dern and Diane Ladd don't disappoint.

John Ballantine
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

Laura Dern is exceptional in this film, bringing to life a character who wants to be loved so badly that your heart breaks for her. I found it interesting that Diane Ladd and Dern are mother and daughter and that they were both nominated for Academy Awards that year. I think both awards should have gone to these fine actresses who made me care about characters in a genre of film that I would usually avoid, that of the sentimental drama.

Luke W
Luke W

Vivid characterizations from a terrific cast. Laura Dern and Robert Duvall are particularly good. Diane Ladd scores in a supporting role. Fine period flavor, excellent score and it?s very well written. Excellent.

James Higgins
James Higgins

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