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The Black Balloon (2008)

PG-13  |   |  Drama, Romance  |  6 March 2008 (Australia)
7.3
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 6,806 users   Metascore: 68/100
Reviews: 37 user | 43 critic | 12 from Metacritic.com

All Thomas wants is a normal adolescence but his autistic brother, Charlie, thwarts his every opportunity. Will Thomas, with the help of his girlfriend, Jackie, accept his brother?

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
...
Sarah Woods ...
Woman Next Door
Sam Fraser ...
Kid Next Door
Makirum Fahey-Leigh ...
Mate of Kid Next Door
Oliver Brookes ...
Other Mate of Kid Next Door
Jan Ringrose ...
Neighbour
Bradley Orford ...
Neighbour
Zelie Bullen ...
Mother in Van
Anthony Phelan ...
Mr. Masters
Deborah Piper ...
Janet - Social Worker
...
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Storyline

Thomas is turning 16. His dad's in the army and they've just moved to a town in New South Wales; his mom is pregnant; his older brother, Charlie, who's autistic, has his own adolescent sexual issues. Thomas finds Charlie an embarrassment in public, so when Thomas is attracted to Jackie, a girl in his swim class, Charlie presents any number of obstacles when she drops by their house, when the three of them go for a walk, and during a family birthday dinner. Can Thomas find a way to enter the world of teen romance and still be his brother's keeper, or is Charlie's disability going to prove more than Thomas can handle? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

From the producer of "Strictly Ballroom." See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some sexual content, a scene of violence, and brief strong language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

|

Language:

Release Date:

6 March 2008 (Australia)  »

Also Known As:

A fekete léggömb  »

Box Office

Budget:

AUD 5,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$10,342 (USA) (5 December 2008)

Gross:

$10,342 (USA) (5 December 2008)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

At the river, Jackie says "Kieren Perkins, watch out!". Kieren Perkins is an Australian swimmer who won Gold medals at the 1992 and 1996 Olympics and a Silver medal at the 2000 Olympics, swimming in the 1500 metre event. See more »

Quotes

Maggie Mollison: Simon the underwear goes on the inside.
Simon Mollison: Maggie please you don't have to worry about it.
Maggie Mollison: It's very embarrassing.
See more »

Connections

Features Beyond 2000 (1985) See more »

Soundtracks

Streets of Your Town
Written by Grant McLennan and Robert Forster
Performed by The Go-Betweens
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Sterling
10 March 2008 | by (Perth, Australia) – See all my reviews

Thomas (Rhys Wakefield) has just started at a new high school. His father serves in the armed forces and the family has to relocate regularly. His brother Charlie (Luke Ford) has severe Autism and Attention Deficit Disorder. He's not able to speak and because he's the size of an adult, caring for him is not easy. At the start of the film we see him grunt with delight as he tramples a newly-bought carton of eggs into the kitchen floor.

While Thomas's mother (Toni Collette) has accepted her son's condition, Thomas has not. He wants to keep his brother a secret from his new schoolmates but when one student (Gemma Ward) learns of his sibling, she's not put off.

It's been a number of years since I've connected with an Australian film to the extent that I did with THE BLACK BALLOON. From the interesting title sequence at the start, we're drawn into the challenges of life with a family member suffering a developmental disability. While, I suppose, an outsider could never fully appreciate just how demanding such a life could be, the film gives us a very good idea.

One of the film's many accomplishments is its successful blend of drama and comedy. It could quite easily have been a depressing affair but many of the brother's outrageous acts prove most amusing. On other occasions, they're heartbreaking.

Equally fine is the performance by Luke Ford. Playing a handicapped character is a challenge for any actor, but Ford is totally convincing as Charlie. Never do we consider he's an actor playing a role.

Toni Collette is first-rate as the ever-loving mother. She's heavily pregnant and when complications arise from her pregnancy, we can't help but wonder if the third child will be like Thomas or Charlie.

The most likable of the characters is Thomas's classmate and later girlfriend, Jackie, played by Gemma Ward. Her acceptance of Charlie and her solid support for Thomas makes her most appealing. It's interesting to note that while Thomas sees Charlie as a burden, his formal introduction to Jackie and the development of their relationship has much to do with his brother.

THE BLACK BALLOON is the work of first-time director Elissa Down, who studied film-making in Perth. She has done a sterling job. Having grown up with two Autistic brothers, it must be a profoundly personal work. The screenplay, by Down and Jimmy the Exploder, is honest and moving and the photography by Denson Baker is fine. I particularly appreciated his low- angle wide shots.

THE BLACK BALLOON won the Crystal Bear at this year's Berlin Film Festival. It's an important film and deserves to be seen. The Australian Film Industry, sadly, does not have a good reputation, at home or overseas. But if we make films like this one, that's sure to change.


46 of 51 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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