The idyllic off-the-map life enjoyed by Jack (Daniel Day-Lewis) and his teen-age daughter Rose (Camilla Belle) is disrupted when Jack invites his townie gal pal Kathleen (Catherine Keener) and her two broody teen-age sons to share their primitive cabin. The outside world's intrusion into the innocent hothouse of Rose's life, coupled with the realization that Jack is dying (though not without one last stand against the man), accelerates the girl's coming-of-age with troubling results. This finely acted drama is the work of Day-Lewis' wife, Rebecca Miller, who wrote and directed. Here, Day-Lewis seamlessly inhabits another skin, this time a gentle, weather-beaten hippie whose quest for purity of vision has inadvertently blinded him to the obvious. Like the Dylan songs on its soundtrack, Ballad
is deceptively pretty, spare and sweet while harboring the tumultuous emotions of life and love.