The Ballad of Jack and The Establishment

Jack and Rose sit in their car on the way to the real estate agent

It’s not hard to guess that I would be a Daniel day Lewis fan. Who isn’t ? So to complete his pack, I watched The ballad of Jack and Rose. It’s the story of an ex-hippy who was the last person still living in a commune in a small island off the US east cost in the 80s, with his teenage daughter. The movie has an angle about his daughter having a crush on himself, mostly because there’s no one else around. But I want to talk about something else.

He is a very hardcore liberal hippy, who powers his house with a windmill which he made himself, recycles and composts everything, home schools his daughter, and only smokes self-rolled weed. He is against all capitalist incursions, especially a prefabricated housing project coming up on the other side of his island which would kill the natural swamp of that area. He regularly vandalizes the development.

Towards the end of the movie, in the scene that concerns us, he drives down to the developer’s house to inform he’s burned down another one of the newly built houses. Jack is dying, and wants to vent his frustration on this man endangering the local ecosystem( or so is his pretense). The developer reasons with him, saying the people who live in these houses prefer the comfort and familiarity of a prefabricated house, and that the govt is okay with endangering the local swamp since it leads to so much economic development for the islanders. He also gives a generous offer for Jack’s house, saying the money would enable his daughter get a top class education.

In a scene of great acting by Day-Lewis, Jack breaks down on the breakfast table and accepts the offer, saying the burden of being the last of his kind had been too much for him, and admits in a moment of clarity(for a dying man) that the difference in their points of view was largely a matter of taste, that he just plain hated the look of these houses. Dylan’s “One more cup of coffee for the road” plays on the radio, and the father-daughter drive back home. Take what you will from this.



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Pranav Kumar

Pranav Kumar

Physics, Films, Fiction, Food, Football, …and travel and history