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Movie Review: The Ballad of Jack and Rose

Alternate Title: Five Characters in Search of a Script

Story: Groan! Director Rebecca Miller (daughter of the late Arthur Miller) has a point of view that grinds on and on and on. Yes, father/daughter relationships can be complex, but this tedious, very predictable script (and I use the term loosely) gets stale very early on in a film that has glimmers of brilliance but always fizzles.

Filmed on the beautiful Prince Edward Island (but supposed to be an island off the eastern coast of the US) we find dying Jack Slavin, living with his teenage daughter Rose, on an abandoned (and apparently failed) counter culture commune still hanging on to his idealistic environmental ideals in a world that is rapidly encroaching on his life.

With his health failing he invites his girlfriend (along with her two sons) to live on the island and take care of him and his daughter. All hell breaks loose in this unhealthy new tribe and I just did not give a damn what happened to almost all of the characters.

I wanted to like this film, but cannot recommend it to anyone unless you like to watch Daniel Day-Lewis (and who doesn't?)

Acting: Daniel Day-Lewis (husband of director Rebecca Miller) always gives a knock out performance. He is a larger than life presence on the big screen even in this smaller than life film. Camilla Belle, as Rose, is a pouty, annoying young woman.She is supposed to be the innocent, but I found her implosion hard to believe. Catherine Keener was fine as the girlfriend. Ryan McDonald as Rodney was one of the saving graces in this otherwise dull film.

Predilection: I like Daniel Day-Lewis.

Critters: Chickens, a dog and an ox.

Food: Eggs, cheese sandwiches and chicken sandwiches.

Blatant Product Placement: None.

Soundtrack: Any film that has some Bob Dylan tunes gets a few Lobo Howls and an opening title song by Credence Clearwater sounded good to me.

Opening Titles: Type superimposed on this idyllic locale.

Theater Audience: About 20 people, mostly women (the Daniel Day-Lewis factor, for sure).

Predictability Level: High

Oscar Worthy: No.

Nit Picking: A re-write would have been in order.

Big Screen or Rental: Wait for cable. But, for some Daniel Day-Lewis gems, try renting: The Gangs of New York, The Boxer (1997), The Crucible (1996), In the Name of the Father (1993), The Age of Innocence (1993), The Last of the Mohicans (1992), My Left Foot (1989), Eversmile, New Jersey (1989), The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988), A Room with a View (1985), My Beautiful Laundrette (1985).

Length: About two hours.