The Ballad of Jack and Rose

"Very Good"

The Ballad of Jack and Rose Review


For some people isolation means happiness. Such is the case of Jack and Rose, father and daughter (Daniel Day-Lewis and Camilla Belle), living sparingly and deeply enjoying it on an island off the Pacific Northwest. In earlier days, it was the setting for a commune -- one that Jack built, led, and closed down as times and manias changed. Now, with the funds from a buyout in his bank account, his comforts are secure, and that's a bit of heaven for Rose who not only adores her father and cherishes her life, but will protect both with all her energy and life force.

A couple of problems threaten to spoil the remote idyll. Jack has a terminal heart condition and they both know his days are numbered. What each wants to do about it differs monumentally. For her part, Rose is devoted to the idea of committing suicide as soon as dad leaves his mortal coil, feeling she couldn't face life without him. In the wisdom of maturity and a wider scope of options, Jack would like to live out the remainder of his life with a companion who, at the same time, would become a replacement adult supervisor for teenager Rose when he's gone. Nice plan -- one that even a normal father might well dream up. And, since he's been dating Kathleen (Catherine Keener) during his rare visits to the mainland, and likes her, he asks her to come live with him and Rose.

Kathleen arrives with a rented trailer full of her and her two boys' belongings, plus the two boys: Thadius (Paul Dano), a slim, self-styled Romeo living on lust, and Rodney (Ryan McDonald), a shy, overweight, more even-tempered lad. Rose is beside herself at suddenly having to share her home and barely gives the new additions to the household the time of day. Interactions develop and things predictably come apart.

I mentioned two problems. The subplot involves the housing development being built up to the borders of Jack's remaining property. To demonstrate just how far this ex-commune leader and rugged individualist will go to protest commercial encroachment, he sneaks up to the construction site and shoots his shotgun into the air -- a ritual to scare off the crew like a flock of city pigeons.

This brings Marty Rance (Beau Bridges) to his door. In an attempt to reach a civilized understanding through reason, the affable developer dares to pay a visit to his abnormal and reclusive neighbor, an effort whose futility is made evident when Jack later highjacks an idle bulldozer and inflicts more direct destruction to one of Rance's model houses.

After more collisions and disappointments and Jack's deteriorating physical condition, Rose makes her statement of finality regarding the changing landscape of her life. It is so extreme that it suggests a mental imbalance -- one molded by the temperament and thinking of the hostile anti-social hermit who is her role model.

This intensely personal story of idiosyncratic mentality and steely backbone is another opportunity for Daniel Day-Lewis to demonstrate the stimulating power of his talent. His Jack is a study of unbending character that is attention-getting, off-putting, and weirdly sympathetic. He shows us a man with a warped vision of social order, whose anger and conviction is expressed through antic, abhorrent, sometimes funny behavior that we somehow can't condemn nor fully embrace.

The workings of Rose's mind is organically revealed by Camilla Belle, whose dark, piercing eyes add expressiveness with an edge of mystery to her character's feisty and stubborn temperament. She convinces us that Rose is, indeed, her rebellious father's daughter. Keener has rarely been more natural and neurotically appealing; Bridges' tendency toward over-expression is held in check while he puts some dimension into a stereotypical character; McDonald and Dano add nicely defined teenage traits to the well-constructed ensemble.

In the flow of nuanced relationships amid social protest, writer-director Miller, the daughter of playwright Arthur Miller and wife of Day-Lewis, demonstrates some parental genetics with her uncompromising offbeat tragedy of character and choice. But, though we may admire or applaud some aspects of her intensely fashioned father and daughter, they inspire more spectator interest than a close and affecting connection. The astute color and camerawork (except, perhaps, for a few handheld moments) of Ellen Kuras contributes a finely textured visual context. The appeal of the piece is limited; the telling of it is accomplished.

Rose in the grass.



Facts and Figures

Run time: 112 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 2nd June 2005

Box Office USA: $0.6M

Box Office Worldwide: $712.3 thousand

Budget: $1.5M

Distributed by: IFC Films

Production compaines: Jack and Rose Productions, IFC Productions, Initial Entertainment Group (IEG), Elevation Filmworks

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 47%
Fresh: 53 Rotten: 59

IMDB: 6.8 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis as Jack Slavin, as Rose Slavin, as Kathleen, as Rodney, as Thaddius, as Gray, as Red Berry, as Marty Rance, as Miriam Rance

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

The 2003 comedy Bad Santa is a holiday classic that skilfully mixes gross-out humour with...

Allied Movie Review

Allied Movie Review

There's a terrific script at the heart of this World War II thriller, with a...

A United Kingdom Movie Review

A United Kingdom Movie Review

Based on a powerful true story from the late 1940s, this drama is packed with...

Indignation Movie Review

Indignation Movie Review

Philip Roth's layered novels are a challenge for filmmakers (see also 2003's The Human Stain...

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

It's been five years since the last Harry Potter movie, and J.K. Rowling has been...

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Yet another bonkers thriller starring Nicolas Cage, this trashy crime comedy comes from director Paul...

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

"Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall" is a DVD...

Advertisement
Arrival Movie Review

Arrival Movie Review

This sci-fi drama has an enjoyably brain-bending plot that leaves the audience almost stunned with...

Elle Movie Review

Elle Movie Review

There's a boldly comical tone to this outrageous thriller that can't help but unnerve audiences...

100 Streets Movie Review

100 Streets Movie Review

A multi-strand drama set in London, this film is very nicely shot and acted, but...

Nocturnal Animals Movie Review

Nocturnal Animals Movie Review

It's been seven years since designer Tom Ford made a splash with his award-winning writing-directing...

The Light Between Oceans Movie Review

The Light Between Oceans Movie Review

With a sweeping, picturesque setting and emotive performances, this dramatic epic will appeal to moviegoers...

The Accountant Movie Review

The Accountant Movie Review

While this slick dramatic thriller plays with some intriguing ideas and themes, it never actually...

Train to Busan Movie Review

Train to Busan Movie Review

Leave it to the Koreans to reinvent the zombie horror movie and put a high-speed...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.