Directed by Rebecca Miller, starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Catherine Keener, Camilla Belle, Paul Dano, Ryan McDonald and Beau Bridges.
'The Ballad of Jack and Rose' is a loving portrait by director Rebecca Miller ('Personal Velocity') of the smothering relationship between a father and daughter who live in the remnants of a failed 1960s commune on an island off the East Coast of America.
Ailing hippie environmentalist Jack (Day-Lewis) has brought up his beautiful 16-year-old daughter Rose (Belle) in splendid isolation, untainted from any worldly influences. But now his terminal illness and Rose's burgeoning womanhood bring trouble to paradise. As Jack plods towards death and his daughter comes of age, Miller depicts the relationship between the duo - a daughter coming to terms with a powerful and charismatic father - as unambiguously sexual.
In an effort to sort things out, Jack invites his occasional girlfriend, single mother Kathleen (Keener) and her two teenage sons - trainee hairdresser Rodney (McDonald) and stoner Thaddius (Dano) - to live with them on the island. He, however, neglects to tell Rose the truth about their arrival and she, feeling betrayed, reacts badly to this invasion of her space. Rose has no idea of restraint or compromise and the situation rapidly spins out of control.
Daniel Day-Lewis, who is married to Miller, is the heart of 'The Ballad of Jack and Rose'. He shows, once again, his ability to lose himself in a part - here he has the convincing pallor and gaunt appearance of a dying man - and his depiction of Jack's torment gets progressively deeper and more moving as the film unfolds. There are strong performances also from 17-year-old acting veteran Camilla Belle, who makes Rose at once sympathetic and slapable, and Catherine Keener as a woman caught between a rock and a hard place as she tries to placate her sons, settle into a new and difficult life with Jack and negotiate a relationship with his daughter. A low-key Beau Bridges turns up as a prosperous land developer, bringing an unforeseen humanity to what could have been a conventionally villainous portrait.
There are many things about the 'The Ballad of Jack and Rose' to admire - cinematography by Ellen Kuras is frequently breathtaking - but few, other than Day-Lewis, to engage with. Unashamedly poetic and beautiful, 'The Ballad of Jack and Rose' is an artistic triumph, although a somewhat cold one.