Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Review: Ballad of Jack and Rose

The Ballad of Jack and Rose isn't a new film, but when it made the rounds back in 2005, it never came to Tucson. So like many other "art" films, I had to wait for the DVD. The only reason this film even hit my radar was because Daniel Day-Lewis, the star, and his film maker wife, Rebecca Miller, were on Charlie Rose this summer.

I liked this film. It's a strange little parable, and I like parables. The story is telegraphed early on, but the actors carry the tension so well that I was captivated. All the performances are great, especially Lewis who lost a lot of weight for this role.

The atmosphere is the film is palpable, but part of that may be that I grew up in an area where the commune movement of the sixties and seventies was just dying out as I was growing up. I know these people, my friends lived in homes like this with radical enviro fathers like Jack. The conflict of progress and ideals that sets the stage for this film, and works as the backdrop against which the drama is enacted, is all too familiar to me. I watched land that was once limited to parcels no smaller than five acres be carved up into subdivisions.

But as the title characters, the real drama is between father and daughter. Rose is seething with adolescent energy, all the while struggling with the ideals in which she was raised. Her mother has been gone for many years, so until Jack's girlfriend moves in, it was just the two of them. When the new woman enters the scene, unconscious or preconscious shadow material erupts, especially in Rose.

This film seems to have been almost universally dismissed -- it has a 46% rotten rating at Rotten Tomatoes (Roger Ebert liked it and that's good enough for me -- caution, he reveals a lot more plot than I do). It's worth noting that Miller has recently received a reprieve from the bad reviews Ballad earned after rewriting Proof for the big screen.

I guess I am in the minority who enjoyed this film. Well, not so much enjoyed, maybe was moved by it. Or, rather, it left me sitting in silence watching dark clouds crawl across the sky outside my window.

That doesn't happen often.

You can see the trailer here.

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