This is one of the sweetest movies I've ever seen, if not the sweetest. Like other films that I've seen from our southern cousins, this one is understated, superbly directed, and brilliantly cast. There's not a single misstep anywhere in this film and it's 97 minutes passes too quickly.
Rhys Wakefield as the younger brother Thomas of the autistic elder child Charlie is a wonder. Gemma Ward is not only beautiful, but her acting skills are top shelf. And Luke Ford's Charlie was impeccably played.
I don't shed tears for a whole lot of celluloid, but I did for this film. The singular low fight scene was a horror to watch and you could feel it in your stomach. The taunting, courtesy of the schoolyard bullies, was gut wrenching to watch, and you could just imagine the terror that Charlie felt as well as the anger of his younger protector Thomas.
But the kiss in the army quonset shelter on the obstacle course was uplifting, as was virtually every scene with Gemma Ward in it. She made this film soar.
I confess to not having seen her in anything before this, but I'll surely look for her in the future. I read that she models, and you can certainly see why, but I implore her to continue acting too, for she's a natural talent.
Toni Collette was the forgiving, loving and kind mother, always there to cheer Charlie on, but there when Thomas needed her understanding, too. Erik Thomson as Simon the dad did a great job as well, he also supportive of both of his sons, both of whom he was proud.
Elissa Down, the director, must have loosed the reins and let these actors fly before the wind, but whatever her skill was that put this fine work together, it produced a beautiful result.
'The Black Balloon' is a beautiful, finely crafted film; not lavish in its production, just in its talent.