Oscar(r) winner* Daniel Day-Lewis (Gangs of New York) is "a joy to watch" (Newsday) as a defiant idealist in this "moving, often hilariouscoming-of-age story" (Vogue) from writer-director Rebecca Miller (Personal Velocity)... more ». Catherine Keener (Being John Malkovich), Camilla Belle (Practical Magic), Beau Bridges (The Fabulous Baker Boys), Jason Lee (Almost Famous) and Jena Malone (Saved!) co-star. Jack (Day-Lewis) and his 16-year-old daughter Rose (Belle) live in relative isolation on a beautiful island off the East Coast. When he invites his mainland girlfriend (Keener) and her two teenage sons to come live with them, it is Rose's first exposure to society - and sexuality. As worlds collide, the consequences will threaten not only Jack and Rose's way of life but also their unusually close bond. *1989: Actor, My Left Foot.« less
Callie K. (ballofglitter) from GRAND ISLAND, NE Reviewed on 8/15/2014...
This movie is a little slow but if you can watch it for the story it's really good. A little odd but I like odd movies. They're unique and different.
Mary Jane T. (MJ) from SPOTSYLVANIA, VA Reviewed on 11/7/2010...
As one review noted this movie is clearly not for a wide audience (taboo tones). My husband and I enjoyed it very much.
"You're innocent, and innocent people get hurt"
M. J Leonard | Silver Lake, Los Angeles, CA United States | 04/24/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Those familiar with Rebecca Miller's previous film Personal Velocity, an insightful triptych of three very different young women, will know that she's a director who's on the cutting edge of American independent filmmaking. But with her latest venture The Ballad of Jack and Rose; she seems to have really outdone herself. This astonishingly beautiful and perceptive tale presents, with an astounding veracity, themes of familiaral love, the loss of innocence, and the ultimate costs of idealism in a world where such ideals are no longer relevant or not even particularly welcome.
Boasting some of the best performances of the year, The Ballad of Jack and Rose opens with Jack (a fantastic Daniel Day Lewis) and 16-year-old Rose (Camilla Belle) sharing a tender and intimate embrace while lying on a Garden of Eden-like bed of grass. As they stare up at the wild blue yonder, one gets the sense that they're a complete, contained, and totally contented couple. It's not immediately clear how they are related to each other, but we soon learn that they are a chaste father and daughter. However, the ambiguity of their severely intense relationship quickly becomes unsettling.
It's 1986 and Jack and Rose are living on a remote East Coast island, the only holdovers from a utopian cooperative. Their world is self-sufficient, autonomous, and claustrophobic. They spend their days living off the land, and hiding out in a wooden, rambling shack that is nestled upon a windswept hilltop and over-grown with grass and wildflowers. Jack is originally Scottish, an old hippie, who came to America in the mid-60's carrying with him the hopes and dreams for a country that he thought America would become. An engineer by profession, over the years he has instilled in Rose a fierce intelligence, but also a wariness and distrust of the outside world.
Jack is dying of a bad heart, and he's angry about the world he cannot put in order; he also feels helpless about the beloved daughter who will soon be parentless. Rose feels as though she can't live without him, so when she tells him" When you die, I'm going to die" you know that she means it. Their problems are compounded when a slick land developer (Beau Bridges), who has begun building a lavish, modern subdivision, deliberately endangers the wetlands flanking the edge of Jack's property.
In an effort to get some domestic help and also to introduce Rose to the wider world, Jack invites Kathleen (Catherine Keener), his casual girlfriend from the mainland, and her two sons Thaddius and Rodney (Ryan McDonald and Paul Dano) to move in and assist with the household. But Rose, having been sheltered from influences other than her father, is not pleased to share her world with anyone new.
Rose is gradually becoming a woman, and she doesn't know how to be appropriate around new people. She's particularly upset that Kathleen is sharing her father's bed and dividing his attention. In an effort to get back at her father, she begins to solicit the attentions of Kathleen's boys, and sets in motion a series of events that forces Jack to confront the disorder and disappointment of his life.
Daniel Day Lewis brings total emotional heft to this role, vividly bringing to life the character's whole host of contradictions; it really is a tour-de-force of acting. His portrayal of a disappointed, bitter, but highly intelligent counter-culture type is fiercely earnest and totally empowering. Jack is a man of principle who is caught between his old world beliefs and a world that has long ago left him behind.
Jack is the epitome of a control freak who realizes, too late, that the depth of his devotion may well have poisoned his daughter. Camilla Belle brings to Rose a ferocious sense of the competitive; she's possessive, and potent, a seemingly innocent yet very willful seductress. She lashes out at her father and at Kathleen in a sequence of chaos-inducing maneuvers that can only bring heartbreak to the small collective.
The Ballad of Jack and Rose is a marvelously shaded mood piece that is probably more about issues and characters than it is about story. Miller has a languid, floaty, and wondering directorial style that lends itself well to this type of subject. Rhythmic and dreamy, both Day-Lewis and Belle respond to it all as if gasping in harmony. The film works on numerous levels - it's a statement about environmentalism, it's also a homage to a bygone world, but its mostly an intensely engaging and satisfying drama about a man who has been sidelined by the realities of life, and who could never live up to the ideas inside his head. Mike Leonard April 05. "
BALLAD OF JACK & ROSE - JUST AN EXPERIMENT!!!
Jean Mills | Aliso Viejo, Ca. USA | 06/28/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I bought this film just because Daniel Day-Lewis was in it. I had to think about it even so because of what might be objectionable content and I didn't want to get into such a film with Mr. Day-Lewis. Thank goodness my interest in his performances overcame all this negativity and I went ahead. There are many reviews here that explain the movie in indepth detail. For me Daniel Day-Lewis makes this movie. He portrays his character (Jack) so well that you mourn for him and ache for the young daughter (Rose)who is going to live a large portion of her lifetime without this father who is absolutely everything to her but is very ill and will die soon. Still this pull toward each other in an unhealthy way is relatively new and they are trying to maintain the loving relationship they have without really confronting this problem. He definitely has the girlfriend, Kathleen, (who has two teenage sons that he had never met) move in with him and his daughter (big mistake) to help keep the relationship one of father/daughter but he tries to tell his daughter this is "just an experiment" to possibly get the help they need since he is so ill. Actually, he was in a panic over his feelings about his daughter when he made this decision, had never mentioned this girlfriend to his daughter, and there doesn't seem to be a connection other than physical with this woman, therefore it was destined to fail. The contrast of homelife before vs. after these people move in is absolutely terrible to say the least. If I had to start each day with these people after what had been my normal everyday life, I would have probably become self-destructive too. This "intrusion" into their lives is the beginning of the end. Rose is extremely hurt and angry and feels "tricked" into having to live with these people. This parent and child have been alone on this island many years, and feelings have become confused. She has begun to be seductive in her behavior and she wants to actively pursue this type of relationship with her father but he is overwhelmed with how to handle this situation and is overcome with guilt about the feelings he has for her. This film handles this departure from the norm in such a caring way that you become completely engrossed with their problems overall and understand how difficult this is for the father to confront and resolve. No one could have made me believe I would love this film as I do. Please don't be put off by what may seem to be a movie regarding unacceptable behavior because you will miss some of the best performances ever given, in my opinion, as well as a film you won't ever forget. I do hope that Daniel Day-Lewis will continue to make films. He is excellent at his craft. Do yourself a favor and try this. Just be aware that due to the problems addressed in this film, a lot of pain and anguish are involved and the end of this film is beautiful but absolutely heartbreaking."
A Little Ditty About Jack And Rose, A Father And Daughter Do
K. Harris | Las Vegas, NV | 11/21/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It's a rare occasion anymore when a film comes along that just feels different. Different, to me, is always good--even "bad" different can earn my respect for attempting something new. Well, "The Ballad of Jack and Rose" is "good" different. It's not about the plot, per se--but the atmosphere and characterizations portrayed. The setting is modern, yet strangely desolate. The characters are kind of trapped in a time warp, living an idealized existence from days gone by. The relationship between father and daughter is complex and unusual--sort of a friendship, almost a romantic pairing. It's this combination of unorthodox aspects that make "Ballad" (at best) an intriguing journey and (at worst) a bit self-important.
Daniel Day Lewis, always indispensable, plays Jack. An ex-hippie, he exists in isolation with his daughter on an island which used to be inhabited for communal living. His performance here is exemplary, a nice blend of idealism and radicalism. Camilla Belle, as his wizened daughter Rose, shows great depth as well. This is largely her spiritual and emotional journey as she faces life without the only man she has ever loved--her father. And their bond is fierce, almost too close by any conventional standards. Jack worries about his health, and what will happen to Rose upon his death. So he embarks on a romantic and financial venture with Catherine Keener to bring her and her sons to the island to be Rose's family.
This addition to Rose's lifestyle is a difficult adjustment. Her relationship with all three newcomers is challenging and tumultuous--but it is definitely a catalyst to taking Rose in a new direction. Launched out of complacency, she is forced to take the reins of her life as an individual--no longer part of a pair. The ending is surprising, thoughtful, and poetic. The final images have lingered with me.
I recommend "Ballad" for those looking for something a bit unusual. Great performances and beautiful cinematography are just two highlights. But it's the offbeat story and intellectually complex characters that I will remember most. While, at times, the film can be slightly uneven or heavy-handed--these are minor quibbles. This is an original film told in an original voice. KGHarris, 11/06."
Shazzy | Heber Springs,Ark | 01/04/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film disappeared locally right after its theatrical debut, so when IFC showed it recently, we rushed to catch up with it. Having admired its director, Rebecca Miller in all her films, we were right in seeing it in the wide screen of the main theater because that seems to be the perfect way to watch this intimate picture.
Ms. Miller takes us to an island off the coast of the continental mainland to set her story. As the film opens we watch Jack Flavin with his teen age daughter as they are perched on the roof of their strange cabin with the roof being made of lawn grass. They are father and daughter who have stayed in the land where years ago, had been a commune. We don't know what happened to Rose's mother, and nothing is clarified. We gather Jack and Rose have a special bond that at times border in incest.
Jack believes in keeping the island the way it is; development is coming fast and furious in the way of luxury homes being built in what probably will be a gated community where people of the same background and financial means will live, in sharp contrast as the commune idea that attracted Jack to the place. Jack, having inherited money from his father is financially secure, but still lives in a primitive way in a basic type of life. We see Jack as he takes pills; we realize he is not a well man.
When Jack takes a side trip to the mainland, he visits Kathleen, a single mother with two teen aged sons. Jack convinces her to come to live with him at the island. What Jack doesn't count is on Rose's reaction to the invasion to her space. In fact, the hatred for the invaders is instant. Katheleen, a kind woman herself, tries to reach Rose without any success. Rodney, one of the sons, has a weight problem, and has studied to be a hairdresser. Thaddius, is the rebel, who has an eye on the beautiful Rose.
Jack's basic intention for bringing Kathleen is to help him during his last days because he senses his days are numbered. When Thaddius suffers an accident, Kathleen takes the opportunity to go back home, leaving Jack and Rose to fend for themselves.
Ms. Miller takes an elegiac look at the situation making Jack into an almost Shakespearean character, that is, bigger than life. Jack is lovingly photographed in his many moods. The beautiful Rose's face shows all the emotions going on inside her. The director ought to be congratulated for involving us in the film and making us care for what will happen to Jack and Rose.
Daniel Day-Lewis is an actor who doesn't work much these days and that is our loss! As Jack, Mr. Day-Lewis has the rare opportunity to show his vulnerability and seems to be naked in front of our eyes because he doesn't hide the emotions from us. We know at any given moment what this man is thinking and what makes him tick. Mr. Day-Lewis gives a fabulous performance as he dominates the picture completely.
Camilla Belle is Rose. This young actress proves he is up to the task the director demands of her character. Not only is she beautiful, but she clearly exudes an innate intelligence that pays off in her portrayal of the girl who sees her world fall apart and has no way to stop what is killing her father.
Catherine Keener makes a valuable contribution to the film as Kathleen. She clearly is a gentle soul who is in love with Jack and wants to stay with him until the end. That is not meant to be because Jack realizes that in "importing" her to the island she gets in the way of the perfect balance between father and daughter.
Ryan McDonald makes the confused Rodney come alive. This young actor is a natural. The rest of the cast include minor appearances by Beau Bridges, Jason Lee, Jena Malone and Paul Dano, who plays Thaddius the other son.
"The Ballad of Jack and Rose" is clearly not for a wide audience because it's too intelligent to get a broader distribution, but the fans of Rebecca Miller will always cherish this film for what she brought to it and for the magnificent performances she got from her cast. The film is beautifully photographed Ellen Kuras and has an interesting score by Michael Rohatyn."
Escape from utopia
D. Watson | Washington, DC | 12/10/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Disregard completely the hostile and dismissive review from the New Yorker quoted by Amazon. This is a lovely film, and while I don't expect everyone will love it, most serious viewers will find something about it compelling. As others have noted, the acting is brilliant throughout, the island setting and cinematography are gorgeous. It has a literary feel, so some of the elements of the plot feel hightened, almost mythical, rather than literally plausible. That said, I did not find the characters or incidents of the plot particularly strange or forced. None of the characters are demonized or overly virtuous - Jack is nowhere near as arrogant and closed-minded as some of the aging radicals I have known, and Rose is not all that innocent or angelic. It's good to watch a film that delves deeply into human weakness, but leaves you with affection for all concerned. I haven't seen it mentioned in other reviews, but the script is often quite funny. Rodney's initial response to Jack and Rose is delightful, as are Rose's cold and deliberate attempts to get any man or boy within reach to teach her about sex. And the film does have something to say about ideals (wasted, misplaced or just out of fashion) and the need to make sense of one's life in retrospect. You should watch it."