Ballad of Jack and Rose, The
"The Ballad of Jack and Rose" shows a father setting emotional boundaries almost too late. Writer/director Miller had a strong father, playwright Arthur Miller, and strong mother, photographer Inge Morath; Miller probably identifies with her mother, although the movie's emotional conflicts have an autobiographical flare (but that's not to suggest anything about her childhood).
On an East Coast island, middle-aged hippie Jack (Day-Lewis) and teen daughter Rose (Belle) are the last two on a hippie commune powered by wind and with no television. He home-schools her; they divide chores. Rose adores him: "If you die, I will." "If you die," he answers, "there will have been no point to my living." A painfully thin chain-smoker whose idealism verges on anger, he's already had a heart attack. Realizing his daughter's fixation, Jack visits the mainland for six months, dates Kathleen (Keener), and asks her and her two teenage sons to move in: "It will be an experiment"; he can underwrite expenses from his trust fund. Kathleen genuinely likes Jack, but lives with her mother, needs the money, is realistic, and has never seen the island. The film's best scenes are the introduction of the outsiders into Jack and Rose's solitude. The sons, by different fathers, are not like: Rodney (McDonald) is a heavy-set sweetheart, Thaddius (Dano), a skinny pothead. Rose reacts angrily, determined to lose her virginity. She asks Rodney; he replies, "My brother will be happy to," and offers a haircut. Short-haired, Rose grows up overnight. With news that she's to start school in town, and Kathleen now her father's lover, Rose rages. Toward the end, events pile up quickly; poisonous snakes, sudden injuries, confrontations with the builder, medical concerns, and many strands play out too far to be neatly concluded. The epilogue seems superfluous.
But Miller is careful to sidestep cliches in a confrontation between Jack and the home-builder (Bridges), whom Jack hates for putting homes on what he says is wetlands: "That's not a house; it's a thing to keep a TV dry," he says. When Jack finally sees their conflict not as right against wrong, but "a matter of taste," we ask: Is it idealistic to want an island to yourself, or venal to believe other people would enjoy homes there? In a revealing scene, Jack and Rose visit a model home, which to Jack is an abomination, but to Rose, a dream.
Daniel Day Lewis, Camilla Belle, Catherin Keener, Beau Bridges, Paul Dano, Ryan McDonald,
Arthur Miller's daughter, Hippie communes, agin hippies, ble
English Reviewer's Name:
When using above purchase link, type the movie name in Search Box that will appear, and select DVD or VHS.