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The Black Balloon (2008)

PG-13 | | Drama, Romance | 6 March 2008 (Australia)
Trailer
2:07 | Trailer
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?

Director:

Elissa Down

Writers:

Elissa Down, Jimmy Jack (as Jimmy The Exploder)
18 wins & 24 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Rhys Wakefield ... Thomas Mollison
Luke Ford ... Charlie Mollison
Toni Collette ... Maggie Mollison
Erik Thomson ... Simon Mollison
Gemma Ward ... Jackie Masters
Sarah Woods ... Woman Next Door
Sam Fraser ... Kid Next Door
Makirum Fahey-Leigh Makirum Fahey-Leigh ... Mate of Kid Next Door
Oliver Brookes Oliver Brookes ... Other Mate of Kid Next Door
Jan Ringrose Jan Ringrose ... Neighbour
Bradley Orford Bradley Orford ... Neighbour
Zelie Bullen ... Mother in Van
Anthony Phelan ... Mr. Masters
Deborah Piper Deborah Piper ... Janet - Social Worker
Henry Nixon ... Trevor - Social Worker
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Storyline

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 <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Normal is relative. 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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Australia | UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

6 March 2008 (Australia) See more »

Also Known As:

The Black Balloon See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

AUD5,000,000 (estimated)

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$2,136,663
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Some actors such as Ngoc Phan, whose characters were not scripted to use sign language to communicate with characters who had autism, learned it anyway and added that to their performances. As the mother of the young adult man with autism, Toni Collette learned more words and phrases in sign language than the script called for so that she could improvise and also give more complete meaning to things her character said when signing with Luke Ford, who portrays the son with autism. See more »

Quotes

Thomas Mollison: Dad, do you ever wish Charlie was normal?
Simon Mollison: All I know is he's my own, and you're weak as piss if you don't look after your own.
See more »

Crazy Credits

During the opening credits which appear over a montage of the Mollison family moving into a new home, the names of things, objects, and people in the frame are superimposed over them--such as "sky" and "lace curtains" and "brother"--in the same typeface and type size as the credits. The responsible staff person from the company that designed the opening credits was inspired by what he learned about autism because of involvement in this film, namely, what he came to understand of how people with autism see things, and by the way the film's character with autism, Charlie, uses sign language to identify things. See more »

Connections

Features Beyond 2000 (1985) See more »

Soundtracks

Better
Written by Paul Woseen / Grant Walmsley / Dave Gleeson / Richard Lara / Brad Heaney
Performed by The Screaming Jets
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
A brilliant debut
5 March 2008 | by deax40See all my reviews

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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