Monday, March 16, 2009

THE BLACK BALLOON - earnest but dull Aussie drama

THE BLACK BALLOON is the critically acclaimed feature debut from Aussie writer-director Elissa Down. It's a semi-autobiographical movie about a teenage boy learning to deal with his autistic brother. Just as WHAT'S EATING GILBERT GRAPE? dealt honestly with cruelty and shame, so does BLACK BALLOON. So much so that at times, while this movie is evidently heart-felt, it seems like a poorer quality knock off. Good performances from Toni Colette as the happily suffering mum and Rhys Wakefield as the protagonist are offset by the familiar story and unforgivably schmaltzy ending.  Forgettable.

THE BLACK BALLOON played Berlin 2008 where it won the Crystal Bear and was released in Australia, New Zealand, Greece, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium and the US last year. It went straight to DVD in the UK.

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