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THE BALLAD OF JACKIE AND ROSE

Director: REBECCA MILLER

U.S.A. • 2005 • COLOUR. DOLBY DIGITAL SOUND • 111 MIN.


SET IN THE MID-1980S ON A SMALL ISLAND OFF THE EAST COAST OF THE U.S., WRITER-DIRECTOR REBECCA MILLER’S THIRD FEATURE (AFTER ANGELA AND PERSONAL VELOCITY) IS A LYRICAL STUDY OF THE LOSS OF INNOCENCE AND THE PRICE OF HIGH IDEALS.
The middle-aged Jack (Daniel Day-Lewis) is an embittered hippie who lives alone with his teenage daughter Rose (Camilla Belle). Jack’s wife left him some time ago, as did other members of what was a thriving commune back in the idealistic ’60s. Still holding to his beliefs about leading an alternative lifestyle, Jack has brought up Rose himself, teaching her his own philosophy and isolating her from mainstream society. Now suffering from a heart condition that could prove fatal, he becomes worried about Rose’s future and is also aware that the girl’s budding sexuality could make for problems given the closeness of their relationship.
The film is not really about the threat of incest, even though Miller is commendably forthright about sexual matters and portrays Rose’s desire to be deflowered as both perfectly natural and a source of some uncomfortable humour. Rose idealises her father and is furious when their island paradise is invaded by Jack’s sometime girlfriend (Catherine Keener) and her two teenage sons. In response, Rose wreaks havoc in the now overcrowded home, and the film builds up to a flourish of melodramatic moves. For the most part, though, Miller is remarkably even-handed in her treatment of all the characters and issues the film explores. Visually (the poetic cinematography is by the artist Ellen Kuras) and dramatically (every single performance is excellent), this is a fine ode to flower power.—Peter Walsh.

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