Directed by: Rebecca Miller
Written by: Rebecca Miller
Starring: Camilla Belle, Daniel Day-Lewis, Catherine Keener, Paul Dano, Jason Lee, Jena Malone
Raising a child in any environment presents its own challenges. No matter how much you try to shield them from the world, it will eventually come knocking and the coddling will have a reverse effect. A lesson learned between this father-daughter duo, who seem to live in a utopia, but one easily interrupted by new members.
Living in an old hippie commune, Jack Slavin (Daniel Day-Lewis) raised his daughter Rose (Camilla Belle) with foundational beliefs in the preservation and respect of nature. Rose loves her life with her father, but once Jack no longer has much strength due to his heart condition, he invites his girlfriend Kathleen (Catherine Keener) to live with them. Kathleen brings her two teenage sons, and Rose, unaware that Jack had anyone else in his life, must adjust to this arrangement.
I will, at some point, be a parent so the fears of raising one correctly will haunt my dreams someday, but the way Jack does it in this film will surely not be my method. While Rose loved the lifestyle, it created an atmosphere where any interruption could be catastrophic, which happens to be the case when Kathleen and her sons move in. Everything gets very strange because Rose never felt like her father’s attention was divided with anyone else and all of a sudden another woman moves in and happens to have sexual relations with him. It almost appears to be late development issues for her, which spawns from interaction outside of her father.
The strangeness of this film cannot be understated but not in a good way. Everything happening in the film feels like it does not sit right. It may be the setup of Jack and Rose, but the integration of Kathleen and her kids also do not make anything better. That ultimately made me not care much for this feature. Everything about it felt too uninteresting and rather boring if I’m being honest. With the setup of these eccentric characters, I found myself not caring for what their fates would be. I had a difficult time connecting with them and the odd story certainly did not help in that regard.
That does not take away from Camilla Belle giving a good performance. She carries most of the emotional moments because the story mostly revolves around her and the stunted development she has received from living essentially in isolation for her entire life. Belle shows that child-like innocence that shrouds over her in her attempts to live this perfect life that her father crafted for her. An innocence that would be shredded the second she interacted with anyone else in her life, which would eventually happen at some point. Belle paired well with the acting legend, Daniel Day-Lewis, who put in a good performance, but nothing better than what anyone would expect from a man of his talent.
I went into The Ballad of Jack and Rose without knowing much, and I learned more than I ever wanted to. It blurs the line between love and family in a way that disturbed me. After finishing the film, I just wanted to take a shower to cleanse myself from what I just watched. A premise that could have done something interesting but the end result shows good performance but in a story that I had no interest in following.