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The Black Balloon

The Black Balloon (Elissa Down, 2008) wr. Elissa Down & co-prod. Jimmy Jack, prod. Tristram Miall, Jimmy Jack; Toni Collette, Gemma Ward, Rhys Wakefield, Luke Ford, Erik Thomson; family melodrama; Toni Collette is the pregnant mother of two sons, one of whom is autistic

I put off watching The Black Balloon. I was expecting a seriously confrontational film about disability, shot through with wry humour. What I did see is a mess: with a model (Gemma Ward) cast instead of an actress, unbelievably insensitive schoolchildren characters, and crappy pop music sung every twenty minutes in an American accent. Toni Collette gives 100%, as always, and Erik Thomson is good. But the film doesn’t have the courage of its convictions. … I like the ambivalence of Andrew Urban’s review.

A deeply personal film for writer/director Elissa Down, The Black Balloon is a gentle yet unflinching look at a family strained by the pressures of caring for an autistic teenager. This element is at the core of the screenplay, which makes the film a little thin and one dimensional. But the film still manages to take us on an emotional journey. Often episodic, it is blessed with top performances - if only there were more dramatic layers to work with. Andrew Urban, Urban Cinefile.

Garry Gillard | New: 25 October, 2012 | Now: 7 January, 2020