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Customer Review

4 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Schmaltz that stretches credibility, 26 Jan. 2009
This review is from: The Black Balloon [DVD] (DVD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is an Australian film that wears its provenance on its sleeve, although the film is pretty much unknown both in Australia and elsewhere. That's probably a good thing.

The star of the show, Thomas, is a new teenager in town. He has an autistic brother, Charlie, and an improbably patient girlfriend, Maggie. And although the film was released in 2007, it is set in the 1980s for no terribly obvious reason. Perhaps it is based on a true story, but (a) the film doesn't say so and (b) the story doesn't feel particularly true. Oh, and the family seems bogan to the core - plenty of running around in underwear, singlets and Dad drinks VB.

Basically, Thomas is torn between love and embarrassment at his brother - a small child trapped in an almost adult body. Charlie helps to add to the embarrassment by doing various shocking, set piece stunts that are generally of an unwittingly sexual nature whilst wearing monkey ears. Meanwhile, Maggie has the patience of a saint and seems willing to forgive both Thomas and Charlie pretty much anything - exactly the way teenage prom queens don't. So when Charlie conveniently gets off his special school bus outside Thomas and Maggie's school in order to be ridiculed by the schoolkids, Maggie is able to ignore the catcalls and jeering to support Charlie, whom she has known for about a week. Yeah, right!

The portrayal of Charlie and Russell, another child with learning difficulties, is convincing in the basic mannerisms. It's just the scripted action and stunts that are not. This is especially apparent at the end when a stuntman has obviously been used to film the dance sequence. To be honest, that scene is a bit of an insult to the audience. And in a very twee sense, you just know that everything is going to be alright in the end. This has feelgood written all over it.

Black Balloon doesn't seem original - it follows a path that has been well trodden by countless TV Movies before it. Yet this is not supposed to be a TV Movie - it aspires to higher things, but falls short by some distance. The fact the film addresses disability will probably discourage viewers from admitting just how poor the film is, but I can't imagine many people feeling it would be worth spending cash money to own it.

On the plus side, though, Rex is worth a star even though he doesn't have a speaking role as such.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 3 Aug 2009 13:09:31 BDT
Really enjoyed your review. I watched this DVD on the basis of other Amazon reviews (I'm yet to add my own) but I agree with what you've said. I've worked with disabled children on a voluntary basis, which is where my interest stems from.
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Review Details

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Reviewer

MisterHobgoblin
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   

Location: Melbourne

Top Reviewer Ranking: 277