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Thomas is turning 16. His Dad is in the army and they've just moved to a town in New South Wales; his mum 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
The only reference to the "Black Balloon" of the title--visual or verbal--appears to be a sole black balloon that rises from behind the backyard fence of the new home of the Mollisons, the family at the center of the film. Seen in the last shot of the opening credits when all four members of the family are in the backyard, the black balloon follows a cluster of red balloons seeming to come from a neighbor's yard and rising out of sight at the top of the frame. The younger brother, Thomas, whose back is to the camera, is the only character in a position to possibly see the balloons. It is unclear, though, whether a slight upward movement of his head is meant to suggest that he notices them. See more »
In the same typeface, style and layout as all the credits that come before it (like, for instance "Costume Designer" on one line with "Claire Granville" just below it), the last credit in the opening sequence has "Title" on one line with "The Black Balloon" just below it. See more »
Elissa Down has used her personal experience of growing up with two autistic brothers, one of whom she describes as a "Rainman" character, and the other the inspiration for Charlie, the autistic and ADHD-afflicted brother of Thomas. The story is touching, sometimes side-splittingly funny, sometimes tragically upsetting, but ultimately uplifting. There isn't a weak performance, and as usual Toni Collette gives a believable portrayal of a mother whose strength holds her family together. Luke Ford is amazing as Charlie, reminiscent of Leonardo Di Caprio in "What's Eating Gilbert Grape?" It's good to see an Australian film that tackles such a difficult subject, and does so brilliantly.
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