The Ballad of Jack and Rose

Director: Rebecca Miller

A few years ago, Arthur Miller’s daughter, Rebecca Miller adapted her poignant, daring short story collection "Personal Velocity" into a mostly successful film, proving that she’d inherited not only her father’s knack for drama but for inspiring wondrous performances from her actors as well, especially her leading women. In her sophomore film, she casts husband Daniel Day Lewis in a role she’d tailored especially for him as a dying Scottish hippie snob, raising his daughter in near isolation on a beautiful island off the east coast of the U.S. in the 1980’s. As his heart begins to wear from an unnamed disease and his teenage daughter’s sexuality begins blooming, making their already unusually close bond border on creepy—Lewis decides to invite his mainland lover, Catherine Keener and her two teenage sons to live with them for what he calls an “experiment.” His daughter Rose acts out radically in ways that vary in seriousness from minor rudeness to trying to lose her virginity to one of the sons (she first propositions the most likely gay one in a scene sad, pathetic and well-played by the actors) and then by bringing a deadly snake into her previous Garden of Eden to poison dad’s new Eve. Some of the metaphors are laid on so thick that they seem like high school freshman writing material but the actors are always believable and Camilla Belle as the girl with major only child syndrome who is starting to develop womanly eyes for daddy (after he’d sadly taken her out of school and made her his entire universe), does a remarkable job. Note: the cinematographer Ellen Kuras is not only a woman but also one of our most imaginative and stylistic cinematographers today—check out her work on Blow and Eternal Sunshine for the Spotless Mind.