out of Five
Running time: 111
Intense, intriguing and sharply-written drama with strong performances from Day-Lewis and Belle and a terrific supporting cast.
What’s it all about?
Directed by Rebecca Miller, The Ballad of Jack and Rose stars Daniel Day-Lewis (Miller’s partner) as Jack Slavin, an idealist who lives on the site of his abandoned island commune with his 16 year old daughter, Rose (Camilla Belle), whom he has sheltered from the influences of the outside world.
However, when Jack discovers he has a fatal illness he takes steps to ensure a future for Rose and invites his girlfriend Kathleen (Catherine
Keener) and her teenage sons Thaddeus and Rodney (Paul Dano and Ryan
McDonald) to live with them. Naturally, things don’t go according to plan and when Camilla rebels, things quickly spiral out of control.
The performances are superb. Day-Lewis affects a note-perfect Scottish accent for the role which works really well. He’s a thoroughly believable character: stubborn, impassioned and not always likeable, particularly in the way he treats Kathleen.
Belle is equally good, proving that she’s a real movie star in the making – there’s a sort of feral energy to Rose that’s genuinely scary and disturbingly unpredictable.
The supporting cast are terrific too, with Keener, Beau Bridges (as a land developer with his eye on the island), Jason Lee (in a small but effective role) and Ryan McDonald the stand-outs.
The film benefits hugely from its unusual and intriguing setting and the intelligent script encourages audience speculation for example, we’re left to wonder why Jack’s commune broke up in the first place, just as we’re intrigued by the intense nature of Jack and Rose’s relationship.
In short, this is an intriguing, thought-provoking and frequently intense drama with terrific performances from a superb cast. Recommended.
The Ballad of Jack and Rose (15)