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The Ballad of Jack and Rose (2005)
Selfhood begins with a walking away, and love is proved in the letting go.
Filmmaker(s): Rebecca Miller

Jack Slavin is an environmentalist with a heart condition who lives with his daughter, Rose, on an isolated island. While Jack fights against developers who wish to build in the area, he also craves more contact with other people. When he invites his girlfriend, Kathleen, and her sons, Rodney and Thaddius, to move in, Rose is upset. The complicated family dynamics makes things difficult for everyone in the house.

The Ballad of Jack and Rose (2005)


Oh man, how sad. It is a sad story of failure that itself is a failure.

It is placed in a world where the unnatural is impinging on the natural and that is called undesirable. And it itself is so unnatural, so manufactured and manipulative it runs counter to itself. Sure, it is independent and deals with a simple tone that a studio would eschew, but it runs through practised, polished drama as if you were touring a very fine jewelry store.

It isn’t just the obvious deliberation of the lead actor. Its all the choices that his wife, the writer/director makes. If there is a choice between dramatic manipulation and truth, she always, always chooses the manipulation/ We happily go along because the story more or less flows along lines we desire. But it never matters because we never are able to anchor it deep in ourselves.

That said, if you can tolerate the sort of emotional bulimia this demands, there are some tasty bits. Rose is played by a very endearing actress, or rather one close enough to endearing in herself she can give an endearing, soft cottony person.

Catherine Keener, a stalwart, gives a moment when she is rejected.

There’s a kiss in this project toward the end that has probably 60 seconds leading up to it that are nearly perfect. Just almost perfect.

There are some structures, remnants of a commune. One is used well, a treehouse that we enter and then see disarborated.

But oh my gosh, they are set in a sort of rich, safe emotional cake that it is hard to credit these marvellous women with their gifts.

Posted in 2006

Ted’s Evaluation — 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.


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