The Ballad of Jack and Rose: A Screenplay

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She turns to him and smiles--a smile of humor, complicity, and total trust. Far away, deep in the forest, a bulldozer starts up.

The Ballad of Jack and Rose

JACK sits up and looks toward the sound, his gaze sharpening, the muscles in his face going taut. JACK gets up, hurries down the sloped roof and through the cellar doors. We follow him as he passes through the kitchen, the living room, and into his study, where he takes an old shotgun down from the wall. ROSE walks to the truck in the front of the house. JACK hurries out of the house, the shotgun in his hand.

ROSE is waiting for him. JACK gets into the driver''s seat. He is intent, angry. She seems to be dreamy, looking up at the trees. Through the trees we see a cluster of identical houses, some finished, some half built. A work crew is beginning the day''s labor on this housing development on the edge of JACK'' s property. The houses are already lined in pink insulation and strike a powerful contrast to the wild nature that surrounds them. JACK aims his shotgun and shoots at a couple of trees, just to the left of the workers.

THE BALLAD OF JACK & ROSE | Film Journal International

Terrified, the men scatter and run to their vehicles, driving away. The housing development is empty now. It feels eerie, as if the life-size dollhouses were staring into each other''s blank windows, unblinking. He walks up to one of the houses. JACK enters the house. He hands the shotgun to ROSE. ROSE watches and listens. JACK They''re all moving into these houses, you know. A whole nation--a whole fucking world of plastic houses. It''s like a rash, it''s eating up this island like a case of bad acne. In thirty years there won''t be anything left that isn''t suburbia--or the ghettos.

Ballad Of Jack And Rose Script

Because they all want to live in places with people exactly like themselves. They''re going to have their own police forces, some of them, to keep their greedy little children safe. And they have the vanity to call this place a community. He examines a plastic window brace leaning against the wall; it flexes under his hand. JACK Look at this crap.

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That''s not a house; it''s a thing to keep the TV dry. JACK No you don''t. JACK walks up the staircase and looks around. In a thousand years, human beings will be the size of gerbils. And they''ll have one thought a year. They''ll think about what they want for Christmas. He walks a couple steps down and sits; he is level with ROSE now. We see them each in enormous close-up. JACK Decline and rot, my angel, that''s the way of the world. They drive back to the commune. JACK walks into the kitchen, follows the phone cord, tracks down the phone, which is in a cabinet under some magazines, and dials a number that he finds on a slip of paper.

Tacked up on the wall behind him are several engineering drawings of windmills and other machines. ROSE follows him in, takes a smoking loaf of bread out of the oven, then takes a bunch of carrots out of a bin beneath the sink and washes them off. Tacked up on the wall behind the sink, clustered around the window, creeping up almost to the ceiling, are hundreds of postcards. That''s government land you''re eating into Fifty yards of nature preserve. That is a wetland, as I''m sure you know. JACK You can call the cops if you want to. When Kathleen and her boys depart, we are impatient for their return.

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Once we have visited Marty Rance's house, we want to linger. It is a truthful evocation of the last of the hippies; a profound look at the love between a troubled father and daughter; a blunt evocation of teenage angst where the youngsters' IQs begin where the Olsen twins' and Brittany Spears' end; a study of the interminable conflict between developers and environmentalists; and a lesson that calamitous conclusions often follow idealistic beginnings.

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  • Day-Lewis, Miller's husband in real life, gives a no-holds-barred performance that imbues the film with much of its power. Belle has been perfectly cast; it is difficult to think of another actress who offers her unique combination of innocence and sensuality, naivety and intelligence.

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    While Keener has proven in films past that she can capture the very essence of modern independent women, here she shines as a somewhat wounded adult willingly dependent on her man, and bitter only that he will not share her commitment. Dano is intensely on target as Kathleen's callow son, whose sullen rapaciousness turns on him with a vengeance.

    And finally, McDonald, as the more sensitive child, steals his every scene with helpless mien and lethal wit. It is a breakthrough performance full of much-needed comic relief. This provocative film is not only a telling portrait of America that would have made Rebecca Miller's father, playwright Arthur Miller, proud, it is the harbinger of great films to come from an exceptional screenwriter and director. Skip to main content.