The Black Balloon
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The Black Balloon
An adolescent boy from a most idiosyncratic family attempts to adjust to his new neighborhood as his 16th birthday looms on the horizon in this family drama from director Elissa Down. Thomas is about to turn 16, and as if adjusting to a new neighborhood, a new school, and new friends isn't enough for a teenage boy to contend with, his family is about as unpredictable as they come. His autistic older brother, Charlie, suffers from ADD, and attends a special school on the days that he actually chooses to go. His father, Simon, is an enormous cricket fan who is prone to holding intense… More
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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 88%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"Thomas and Jackie's friendship, blossoming into a chaste romance, is the dramatic engine that powers The Black Balloon, but it's far from the most important relationship in the film."
‑ Michael O'Sullivan, Washington Post
"The Black Balloon establishes this family with a delicate mixture of tenderness and pain."
‑ Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
"Autism is a subject most filmmakers fear to broach, but not Aussie newcomer Elissa Down, she attacks the issue with honesty and passion."
‑ Al Alexander, The Patriot Ledger
"Wakefield anchors the well-paced quieter moments."
‑ Alicia Potter, Boston Phoenix
"The outlines are broad and obvious, and Thomas such a bore, that The Black Balloon loses air."
‑ Phil Villarreal, Arizona Daily Star
"The film's vision is neither a grim wallow nor falsely cheerful. It's compassionate but unblinking, and in the end we can't help but admire the genuine strength of how its characters accept their special challenge."
‑ Walter V. Addiego, San Francisco Chronicle
"There are wrenching scenes that are brutally stark, yet there remains a steady sense of calm that is touching and sensitive without ever turning sentimental."
‑ Ted Fry, Seattle Times
"It's a well-meaning film, marked by Luke Ford's sensitive portrayal of a disabled character. But the main character is bland, imparting the same vibe on the rest of the film."
‑ Mike Scott, Times-Picayune
"The Black Balloon is marked by the fiercest bravery you're likely to encounter on screen this year."
‑ Graham Killeen, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"It sometimes skirts melodrama territory, but the deep emotions ultimately are real and gratifying. Dependable Toni Collette keeps it grounded, disappearing into her role as the incredibly patient mother."
‑ Stan Hall, Oregonian
"At its sharpest Elissa Down's feature directorial debut is guided by intense, rough-edged emotional swings that feel authentically alive, even when the script settles for tidiness."
‑ Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune
"Structurally and cinematically, The Black Balloon sticks to the coming-of-age basics, but [director] Down has a gift for conveying time and place."
‑ Ty Burr, Boston Globe
"The Black Balloon is neither 'Rain Man' nor 'The Other Sister. This Aussie charmer charts its own course."
‑ Christian Toto, What Would Toto Watch?
"A film that mostly skirts artifice and sentimentality for a truer portrait of a family battered and bruised but nowhere near broken."
‑ Kimberley Jones, Austin Chronicle
"Collette aside, there is no wow factor in The Black Balloon -- just a not-bad story told with better-than-average skill."
‑ Chris Hewitt (St. Paul), St. Paul Pioneer Press
More reviews for The Black Balloon on Rotten Tomatoes