The Ballad of Jack & Rose—MGM/UA
Part coming-of-age story, part Easy Rider, part Badlands, The Ballad of Jack & Rose has so many wonderful nuances and levels, it’s hard to place it into one category. And that’s what makes it work so beautifully. Ailing, cause-weary environmental activist Jack (Daniel Day-Lewis) lives with his teenage daughter Rose (the sensational Camilla Belle) on a former East Coast island commune he built way back when. When his mainland girlfriend (Catherine Keener) and her two sons move in, their close relationship is strained, and the ensuing examination of isolation, hopes that never quite materialized, and loss is unique and uncommon.
With Rose’s sudden exposure to another woman, as well as her darkly comical reactions to the intrusion—one of newfound discovery of her sexuality and her acceptance of mortality—we see repression and passion in its rawest and most vulnerable form.
The 1.78:1 picture is full of grassy, leafy vistas and blooming flowers, thanks to cinematographer Ellen Kuras. The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio is perfect for the 1960s tunes, slide guitars, and psychedelic tracks that permeate. There are no extras.
Day-Lewis is, as usual, riveting, as he struggles with his convictions, his declining health, and the inevitable march of progress. Belle is nothing short of remarkable. Rose is awkward, loving, heartbreaking, and wholly original. Writer/director and real-life wife of Day-Lewis, Rebecca Miller constructs a profound elegiac story of depth and heart.