A young woman kept at arm's length from the world finds it suddenly appearing on her doorstep in this drama. In the 1960s, Jack (Daniel Day-Lewis) was a political radical and environmental activist who organized a self-sustaining commune on a small island off the East Coast as an alternative to what he saw as an ugly and destructive way of life. In 1986, the commune is down to two members -- Jack and Rose (Camilla Belle), his 16-year-old daughter from a marriage that ended with his wife's death. Educated by her father and isolated from "corrupting" outside influences, Rose is very close to her father, and keeps a close eye on his emotional needs as well as his health, which has been compromised by heart disease. Jack has an on-and-off relationship with Kathleen (Catherine Keener), a divorced mother of two teenage boys who lives on the mainland, and one day to Rose's great surprise, Jack announces that Kathleen and her boys will be moving in with them. Startled and betrayed by Kathleen's arrival, Rose is also disoriented by the sudden presence of outside influences and a sudden rush of adolescent lust. Rose first attempts to seduce sweet but stocky Rodney (Ryan McDonald), who opts instead to cut her long hair; she then takes up with moody Thaddius (Paul Dano), who takes her virginity. Before long, emotional war breaks out in the household with Rose battling Jack on all fronts; Jack, meanwhile, is taking a more direct tack on dealing with a developer (Beau Bridges) putting up buildings on nearby wetlands, attempting to chase him off with a shotgun. The Ballad of Jack & Rose was written and directed by Rebecca Miller, whose husband is leading man Daniel Day-Lewis and whose father was playwright Arthur Miller.
by Mark Deming synopsis