• PG-13, 1 hr. 42 min.
  • Drama
  • Directed By:
    Elissa Down
    In Theaters:
    Feb 9, 2008 Wide
    On DVD:
    Mar 23, 2010
  • NeoClassics Films


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The Black Balloon Reviews

Anna King
Time Out
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Full Review Source: Time Out | Original Score: 4/5

November 18, 2011
Ben Kenigsberg
Time Out
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Full Review Source: Time Out | Original Score: 2/5

November 17, 2011
Michael O'Sullivan
Washington Post
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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.

Full Review Source: Washington Post

May 1, 2009
Walter V. Addiego
San Francisco Chronicle
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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.

Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle | Original Score: 3/4

April 17, 2009
Michael Phillips
Chicago Tribune
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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.

Full Review Source: Chicago Tribune | Original Score: 3/4

April 10, 2009
Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times
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The Black Balloon establishes this family with a delicate mixture of tenderness and pain.

Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times | Original Score: 3/4

April 10, 2009
Ted Fry
Seattle Times
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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.

Full Review Source: Seattle Times | Original Score: 3/4

April 2, 2009
Ty Burr
Boston Globe
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Structurally and cinematically, The Black Balloon sticks to the coming-of-age basics, but [director] Down has a gift for conveying time and place.

Full Review Source: Boston Globe | Original Score: 3/4

April 2, 2009
Colin Covert
Minneapolis Star Tribune
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The Black Balloon, a splendid Australian film about a teenager and his older autistic brother, gets it, from the happy/sad imagery of the title through the uplifting, but not saccharine, finale.

Full Review Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune | Original Score: 3/4

March 6, 2009
Lou Lumenick
New York Post
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This small gem has a very satisfying ending.

Full Review Source: New York Post | Original Score: 3/4

December 5, 2008
Sheri Linden
Los Angeles Times
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This unblinking family drama packs a visceral punch. Thomas' journey toward acceptance is blessedly free of noble lessons and filled with real people.

Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times | Original Score: 4/5

December 5, 2008
Stephen Holden
New York Times
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The blooming puppy love between Thomas and Jackie lends The Black Balloon a welcome strain of tenderness. Mr. Wakefield and Ms. Ward project the innocence of shy, sensitive young people for whom a tentative shared kiss is a very big deal.

| Original Score: 3.5/5

December 5, 2008
Scott Foundas
L.A. Weekly
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The Black Balloon courses with a firsthand feel for languorous Aussie summers, the shifting scales of love and hate in sibling relationships, and the earned wit that helps families cope with difficult situations.

Full Review Source: L.A. Weekly

December 4, 2008
Lisa Schwarzbaum
Entertainment Weekly
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Toni Collette gives it the old Little Miss Sunshine try in The Black Balloon as an edge-of-kooky, very pregnant mama presiding over a chaotic household.

Full Review Source: Entertainment Weekly | Original Score: B-

December 3, 2008
Anna King
Time Out New York
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Elissa Down approaches autism without being maudlin, placing the messy action in a summery realm where bronzed kids learn to grow up, fast.

Full Review Source: Time Out New York | Original Score: 4/6

December 3, 2008
Scott Foundas
Village Voice
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This auspicious Oz import is a sign of bright, young filmmaking in Australia.

Full Review Source: Village Voice

December 3, 2008
Russell Edwards
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Collette acts as an anchor for the ensemble, but the young leads credibly hold their own onscreen.

Full Review Source: Variety

October 18, 2008
Megan Lehmann
Hollywood Reporter
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Young love triumphs in a terrific Australian indie that deals with autism in an authentic, unsentimental way.

March 6, 2008
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