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The Ballad Of Jack and Rose

About.com Rating 2.5 Star Rating

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The Ballad of Jack and Rosie

Catherine Keener and Daniel Day Lewis in "The Ballad of Jack and Rose"

Daniel Day Lewis plays Jack, a dying man with big ideals and an idealistic, impetuous teenage daughter in Rebecca Miller's third film "The Ballad of Jack And Rose." In what could have been a funny and compelling simple tale, Miller (daughter of playwright Arthur Miller) gets overwhelmed with importance. She juggles more themes than the film can possibly handle: loss of innocence, the failure to stay true to old hippie values in a cruel corporate world, the hypocrisy of adults, and, for good measure, a case of never consummated father-daughter incest.
Camilla Belle in "The Ballad of Jack and

Camilla Belle in "The Ballad of Jack and Rose"

Miller has an excellent cast at her disposal, including her Oscar winning husband Daniel Day Lewis, Catherine Keener in a sympathetic performance as his needy girlfriend, and Camilla Belle, a stunningly beautiful young actress who clearly seems headed for stardom. (Cinematographer Ellen Kuras seems aware of her enormous charm, lingering for too many close-ups; there are also too many light flickering shots of the ocean and wild flowers waving in the wind.) In a screenplay that pushes credibility, Miller pushes her actors to the edge: way too many tears are shed and dramatic monologues delivered. Another film playing in theaters now, Campbell Scott's mesmerizing "Off the Map" is a perfect example of how to tell a quiet, nuanced family drama about environmentally-correct eccentrics who live outside society.
Saddled with a highly sentimental opening and an overly dramatic end, "The Ballad of Jack and Rose" has a rich and hilarious middle that truly makes the film worth watching. All credit is given not to Lewis, but to young Belle. She stages a remarkably effective and enthralling rebellion after her dying father invites his girlfriend and her two teenage sons to live with them.
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