For the record, “The Ballad of Jack and Rose” is a film I’ve been dying to see since its initial release into select theaters. Often, indie films with utter potential to be pure gems arrive, and I’m beaming and anxious to watch it. “Ballad” is a film I’ve been trying to get a hold of for a long while. “Ballad” is a story of the last of the flower power free love generation. Jack, the father, is one of the last of the hippy generation who finds out he’s dying, and dying very soon. His death symbolizes the death of the hippy generation, and his daughter Rose is one whom will apparently carry it on against his will. They live on their own island, a deserted commune to be more exact, which they hold residence in, in spite of its lack of citizens whom moved on ages ago.
Jack and Rose are, for lack of a better word, close. They’re a father and daughter who live in their own little world, without television, and closed off from the outside world left to their own conventions. And we’re introduced, gradually, to their almost romantic feelings for one another. Jack is dying from cancer, and watches as his daughter Rose refuses to go into society and leave him be. Jack invites outside elements to both cure their sadness, and show Rose a glimpse of the outside world. Rose is heartbroken that he’s dying, not because she’s his daughter, but because she’s in love with him. The themes throughout the story are just that, themes, but understandable character turns as Rose only knows Jack, and vice versa.
She complains to him, and embraces him like a lover, as Jack tries anxiously to explain that he’s going to be dying soon, and she needs to learn how to live without him. While Rose’s romantic feelings for her are obvious, viewers will be inclined to wonder if Jack feels the same. And he makes it his mission to show her that they’re indeed father and daughter. Is it too late for Jack to veer away from his feelings for his daughter? In his way to distance the romantic tension between them, he invites his girlfriend to live on their island, but what effect and consequences will this forced rift lead to is part of what makes “Ballad” such a fascinating and heartbreaking film. Rose is both forced to explore everything the outside world has to offer her, and realize her father will only remain her father.
But in her attempt to rebel against the changes, Rose engages in many dangerous and odd activities to garner attention from her father, and the effect on the outsiders is pivotal to how the allegory for progression unfolds. Keener is very good as a more dysfunctional outsider, and her dichotomy with this world, and Rose is fascinating to watch. Daniel Day Lewis and Camilla Bell’s performances are very good, and they constantly teeter on the edge of romantic partners to father and daughter to the point where audiences will be uneasy. Include memorably performances by Jason Lee, Jena Malone, and the incomparable Catherine Keener respectively, and “The Ballad of Jack and Rose” is a sad tale of isolation and love. Miller’s adaptation is sweet, sad, and utterly whimsical and presents the tale of a father and daughter who must separate from one another whether they like it or not. “Ballad” is a beautiful well acted and well written tale about isolation and the consequences of being too close in a relationship.