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The Black Balloon [DVD]

60 customer reviews

Price: £4.72 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £20. Details
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Product details

  • Actors: Rhys Wakefield, Luke Ford, Toni Collette, Gemma Ward, Erik Thomson
  • Directors: Elissa Down
  • Producers: Tristram Miall
  • Format: DVD-Video, PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Icon Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: 2 Feb. 2009
  • Run Time: 97 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001K859PW
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 47,824 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

Coming-of-age family drama, from director Elissa Down, about a teenage boy adapting to life in a new town with an autistic brother in tow. 16-year-old Thomas (Rhys Wakefield) has just moved with his family to a new town. It's hard enough adapting to new home, friends, and school, but when you have an older autistic brother and distinctly odd parents, it's always going to be tough. Thomas's older brother Charlie (Luke Ford) suffers from ADS syndrome, and consequently gets to choose which days to attend the local school. With his father prone to discussing world affairs with his teddy-bear, and his mother likely to sleep with whomever she chooses, it's not ideal. Things take a turn for the worse when his mother announces she's pregnant, causing Thomas to have an even bigger role in caring for Charlie. But just when things seem to at their blackest, Thomas runs into, literally, girl-next-door Jackie (Gemma Ward), and hearts begin to pound...

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By L. Seiler on 4 Jun. 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Some reviews of this brilliant film have suggested that it's unrealistic, overly chaotic, and that Mum's (Tony Collette's)attitude is too falsly positive - wrong!!!! My autistic son is much higher functioning than Charlie in the film, and much easier to handle. BUT the day to day scenarios are spot-on accurate. Tony Collette also reflects brilliantly what it is like to be Mum to someone like Charlie. If you don't stay relentlessly positive, you'd be jumping off a bridge - you can't wallow in self-pity because the problem is just not going to go away, you've got it for life. The reflection of the sibling relationsip is also very accurate - my two daughters have a strong, affectionate, protective relationship with their brother, but society sometimes makes life as difficult for them, as it does for him.

A superbly acted film, that has been well researched, and deserved all the awards it got.
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48 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Mark Barry HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 1 Feb. 2009
Format: DVD Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
As 50-year old parents of an 18-year Autistic son, the better half and I sat down to watch "The Black Balloon" with an open mind. She thought it was honest, true to life and moving - I thought it was brutal, clinically exploitive and deeply hurtful.

First up - Autism doesn't sell - so the cover of the DVD slyly tries to pan it off as a teenage love story - when most of movie is dominated by the lead character's Autistic brother whose inappropriate, but unintentional outbursts make life for him, his parents and their family - a living hell.

This is an Icon Production - Mel Gibson's company - and I've found his movies bludgeon you over the head in order to extract emotion. If he can't gore it up, he'll hurt it up. As other reviewers have pointed out, the brother's behaviour is wild (rubbing excrement into the carpet, punch outs at home, tantrums in supermarkets) - some of which does happen, but most doesn't. No experienced parents would take their son to such situations precisely because it will precipitate such behaviour - these film parents are conveniently clueless - and that just doesn't wash. Then there's the horrific cruelty of the Australian school kids and neighbours - again all of it so over the top as to beggar belief.

But the worst scene is after a particularly horrific home incident, the special needs brother Charlie (played by Luke Ford) supposedly apologises in sign language to his brother Thomas (played by Rhys Wakefield) - this just wouldn't happen. It is precisely because of Autism that Charlie would never make this cognitive leap - and in the real world - it's in this maddening knowledge - that lies so much hurt for siblings.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Melanie Pratt TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 9 Feb. 2009
Format: DVD Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"The Black Balloon" is an Australian drama about the family and school life of a teenage boy called Thomas who has a severely autistic older brother called Charlie, a heavily-pregnant mother (played by Toni Collette, brilliantly as always), and a rather weird Army father who seems to inexplicably communicate via a teddy bear called Rex some of the time. At the start of the film the family has moved to a new house, so Thomas has the challenge of a new school in addition to this.

Most of the plot concerns his developing relationship with Jackie, a girl from school, and with him coming to terms with his brother's condition and how badly it impacts the whole family, particularly once his mother has to go into hospital on bedrest as a result of her pregnancy (Charlie requires constant supervision or poo-smearing etc is the result...). As other reviewers have said, there are pretty strong similarities to "What's Eating Gilbert Grape", but it is by no means a carbon copy (the protagonist in this film is a great deal younger than Gilbert, for a start, and whereas Gilbert's father is dead and mother isn't physically able to look after Arnie, in this movie the parents actually do the bulk of the caring, which I felt shifted the focus enough to make it distinct).

I really enjoyed the film, and felt that it was probably a pretty realistic depiction of what a young man in that family setting would go through (slightly unrealistic romance with perfect girl notwithstanding!). It was funny in parts, sad in others, and generally met my expectations of an Australian film (I like Australian films. A lot. "Amy" starring Rachel Griffiths is another very good one, as is "Cosi" with Toni Collette, although I'm not sure either are available in this country). Recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mr. N. Morgan VINE VOICE on 4 Feb. 2009
Format: DVD Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Like Schindler's List, made back in 1993, this is a film that needed to be made!

In graphic detail, The Black Balloon gives a disturbing and emotional yet compelling and beautiful roller-coaster ride through the life of the family (particularly the brother) of a teenager who has severe autism combined with A.D.H.D. (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).

The film stars Rhys Wakefield who played Lucas Holden in the Aussie soap "Home And Away" as Thomas, the teenage brother of Charlie who has A.S.D. (autistic spectrum disorder) & A.D.H.D. and the film highlights some of the highs & lows of life living with Charlie.

Thomas befriends a girl at school called Jackie (Gemma Ward) and is scared of losing her because of Charlie (yes, we all know how cruel teenagers can be!). But are his fears justified or groundless? You'll just have to watch the film and see!

As can be expected from such a film, there are moments of fairly graphic violence, despair, heartbreak, touching tenderness, romance and comedy. This is film that will have you both laughing and crying as well!

I found the film very uncomfortable to watch at times and yet very compelling and beautiful as well! Like I said, a real roller-coaster - but a real heart-warmer at the same time.

The production crew have obviously done their homework thoroughly on this film because my wife whose work as a local authority advisor for families with A.S.D. and A.D.H.D. says this is a very fair representation of what life is like for the family of someone with autism & A.D.H.D. And Luke Ford who plays Charlie deserves an Oscar for his performance!

In conclusion, this is a film everyone ought to watch although few will feel comfortable with as it deals with issues that those unaffected by autism & A.D.H.D. would feel are best left unaired. I strongly disagree - and I think you will too after watching The Black Balloon.

Recommended viewing!
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