Le Voyage du Ballon Rouge (The Flight of the Red Balloon)
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Le Voyage du Ballon Rouge (The Flight of the Red Balloon)
Le Voyage du Ballon Rouge (Flight of the Red Balloon), which constitutes celebrated Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-Hsien's first French-language picture, represents both an homage to Albert Lamorisse's beloved 1956 short The Red Balloon and an expansion of that earlier picture. Hou begins with Lamorisse's central conceit -- that of a mysterious red balloon tracking a lonely young French boy around the city -- and broadens the story to weave an extended meditation on urban isolation and dysfunctional, slightly broken Parisian lives. The red balloon here acts as a kind of observer to a… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 80%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"Binoche's energy, invention and concentration are phenomenal."
‑ Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle
"For all its fuss and fury, Flight of the Red Balloon succeeds magnificently, providing not only an artful homage to Lamorisse's Academy Award-winning short, but also a weightlessly floating tour of the French capital."
‑ Stephen Cole, Globe and Mail
"Hou's slice of backstreet Paris is quiet, composed, almost serene in spite of itself."
‑ Kelly Vance, East Bay Express
"La Tour de Paris charmingly through the fresh eyes of a Chinese film student updating Lamorisse's beloved film while she babysits the son of the lovely, harried Binoche."
‑ Nora Lee Mandel, Film-Forward.com
"[A] sedate, ever-lovely looking film."
‑ Kimberley Jones, Austin Chronicle
"Lamorisse's film was a third of this length, and was lighter than air. Hou's is about the weight of air itself on a muggy day, and whether that sustains over 113 minutes will be between each viewer and his attention span."
‑ Jonathan F. Richards, Film.com
"More often than not, the red balloon appears as a silent, benevolent witness to ethereal moments that [director] Hou has taken great care to capture."
‑ Jeff Shannon, Seattle Times
"Watching this was a waste of time."
‑ Robert Roten, Laramie Movie Scope
"While Hou's cinematic techniques are as sound as ever, this time it feels as if they're being used to peer into nothing of particular, specific significance."
‑ Jeffrey Chen, Window to the Movies
"Beautifully shot, but ultimately dull and plot-free drama that's both elusive and frustrating, despite a strong performance from Binoche."
‑ Matthew Turner, ViewLondon
"The story of these people is certainly engaging. The conundrums of art and reality, of reflection and mirror images, presented by the movie are another matter - they seem at times gratuitous. But at least the movie does give us something to think about."
‑ Philip Marchand, Toronto Star
"Plenty of well-meaning filmmakers advertise emotion without contextualizing it. Hou's latest film feels to me like a masterpiece responding intuitively to a masterpiece."
‑ Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune
"A visitor's beatific evocation"
‑ Fernando F. Croce, CinePassion
"As if playing a serenely refined game, Hou transforms constraint into freedom -- which feels more to the point than any plotbound interpretation."
‑ Stuart Klawans, The Nation
"The question is whether it really makes sense to turn Lamorisse's fanciful original film into a downer family drama; it's sort of like doing a modern-day version of "Narnia" where the kids never find the wardrobe."
‑ Rob Thomas, Capital Times (Madison, WI)