of Jack and Rose
is the sort of horseshit that gives indie films a bad name.
Actually, it gives all movies a bad name. And people named Jack
and Rose, too. Or Ballad, although, if you're name is ballad
you're already screwed. What a fucking pretentious turd. The
self-important title tells you this overwritten, underinteresting
clunker is going to be a lot like me at 4 a.m. on Easter: so
full of hard-boiled eggs and Jagermeister that I puked all over
my pants. Except, Jack and Rose replaces the booze and
eggs with its own sense of value and replace my pants with the
and Camilla Bell are the title characters, a father and teen
daughter living in the remains of a hippie commune on a remote
island off the Eastern US coast. Beyond the title, we are warned
how highly the film regards itself as soon as Day-Lewis reveals
he is slowly dying on a heart condition, and big-time land developers
start building box homes on the other side of the island, threatening
the idyllic peace he thought he had. This signals one of the
many big themic and symbolic issues that the movie brings up
but doesn't do much with. Sort of like my mother casually mentioning--apropos
of nothing--at Easter dinner that as a teenager I kept a bottle
of Wesson under my bed. I suppose we're all supposed to discuss
these things later once we've had time to digest them. But who
the fuck wants to?
and insulated from society, Day-Lewis and Bell have established
an uncomfortably tight relationship that has them both depending
heavily on the other. Knowing he is going to die, Day-Lewis
brings his mainland girlfriend (Catherine Keener) and her two
sons to the island. His thinking is that Bell can live in this
family instead when he is gone. That goes sour, though, thanks
to a lot of plot devices as awkward and thudding as the long
jump at the Special Olympics.
what do you know? As soon as Keener and her two sons move in
there is a big windstorm that knocks over Bell's childhood treehouse.
Get it? Her innocence will collapse because of the intrusion
of these outsiders? That was the intended meaning, but what
it really portends is a lifetime's worth of heavy-handed symbols
you usually only see in short stories published in the Ligourian
or poetry at a lesbian liberal arts college. Yeah, the treehouse
is pretty fucking obvious, but not nearly as bad as the snake
that is released in the house to let us know Eden has been spoiled.
And neither have those hold a candle to Bell's dramatic haircut
halfway through the movie.
finally get to the part where Day-Lewis kicks the bucket, we're
pushed through a dozen ponderous set pieces linked together
with the cinematic equivalent of baling wire. There is an inevitable
near-incest scene that I think was supposed to shock, but is
a foregone conclusion from the outset. Otherwise, it's a good
snooze interrupted by the occasionally hysterics that remind
this fucking turd was supposed to have a plot.
plenty of good performances from the actors. I'm sure Day-Lewis
fans will rave about how wonderful he is, but he mostly acts
too fucking intense and humorless. the guy thinks acting is
God damn brain surgery. Bell and Keener are very good, and it's
a damn shame they have such underwritten indie standards to
play. Besides, what the fuck is the point of a good performance
in such a piece of shit? It's like saying that when the doctor
accidentally killed grandpa the anesthesiologist was really
good with the needles.
Rebecca Miller for everything. She's made a story that has nothing
to do with the characters but everything about her and how fucking
impressed she is with her tired ideas. She pours wordy, early
Bob Dylan tracks all over the movie like an unsupervised six-year
old putting syrup on his pancakes. She belabors the simpleness
she wants to convey with tacky and showy camera tricks. Slo
Mo, a psychedelic freak-out scene, hyper-extended single camera
shots. It's all part and parcel with her trying to fabricate
something important out of a very weak story.
know her, but watching this movie made me think of all those
too-serious college students who try really fucking hard to
sound important but without any real world knowledge to back
up their outrage at social injustice. What she, and those kids,
are pissed about is what they imagine the world is like, not
how it really is. She has no concrete ideas, so she ladles on
symbols and stock characters with stock emotions. When a character
is unique, it's not in any organic way.
of Jack and Rose wants to say something about the encroachment
of progress onto people's lives, and she wants to say something
about the way almost all the hippies have eventually sold out
and become Saab and Subaru NIMBY pricks. But, she's trying to
say so many big things she doesn't make sense of any of them.
I'm not saying she needs to be original, but she should at least
know what she wants to say. here's a hint: fuck you, you sell-out
hippies. I'd rather you losers still lived in geodesic domes
and promoted free love than tried to ban smoking in bars in
Boulder you don't even go to.
in this movie feel genuine or organic. Everyone is driven by
Miller's hand to do big dramatic things, and spout big, dramatic
dialogue. But none of it ever feels like it comes from the heart.
So, why bother? Why making a movie if you don't have a story
to tell? Don't be so fucking impressed with your own opinions.Miller's
style would be better suited to pamphlets handed out before
Indigo Girl shows. One Finger for The Ballad of Jack