Thursday, September 07, 2006

Overlooked DVD of the month - THE BALLAD OF JACK AND ROSE

THE BALLAD OF JACK AND ROSE fits all the usual criteria for the overlooked DVD of the month: it's really bloody good but slipped under the radar on original release - perhaps because it was shown on around two screens in Shoreditch for a millisecond. Anyways, it's out on DVD now and is definitely worth checking out.

THE BALLAD OF JACK AND ROSE is a powerful drama about "finding yourself". And yet it's not at all a steaming pile of pretentious horse-dung. It stars the outstanding actor Daniel Day-Lewis as an ageing hippie called Jack. He lives on the remains of an old commune and shoots at greedy capitalist bastard property developers. Problem is, he's ill and worried about what will happen to his beautiful teenage daughter, Rose, when he carcs it. So, Jack gets the woman he's been casually sleeping with to move in with her two teenage sons. Not unsurprisingly, Jack's daughter Rose feels threatened by this invasion of her isolated home.

Writer-director Rebecca Miller creates two eccentric lead characters that are unlike anything I have seen on screen before. Camilla Belle, who plays Rose, matches the intensity of Daniel Day-Lewis note for note. It's a mesmorising performance. Given Belle's more recent work in piss-poor 70s horror remakes one can only hope she gets back to the path of righteousness and Indie cinema soon. The supporting cast is also strong:
Catherine Keener brilliantly conveys the conflicting motives of the girlfriend and we even get a cameo from Paul Dano - the brother from LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE. As the movie reaches its crescendo we have more than just a glib tale of how hippies are nice and capitalists are bastards - and more than just another exploitative tale of transgressive love. This is a cruel and complex take on the acquisitive instincts in all of us - whether emotional or physical.

THE BALLAD OF JACK AND ROSE showed at Sundance 2005 and was released in the UK earlier this year. It is available on Region 1 and Region 2 DVD.

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