The White Balloon (Badkonake sefid) (1995)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

The White Balloon (Badkonake sefid) Photos

Movie Info

A seven-year old girl's quest for a beautiful goldfish provides the basis of this charming Iranian children's drama set the day before Iran's New Year's eve celebration and filmed in real time. Razieh really wants this fish, which is much prettier and plumper than those in her neighbor's pool. Unfortunately, her mother cannot afford such a luxury and refuses to buy it. Razieh then talks her brother, who can also see no point in owning the fish, into convincing their mother to change her mind. He is successful and the mother reluctantly gives the little girl the very last banknote with strict instructions that she is to bring back every bit of change as the mother needs it to pay household bills. The girl then sets out across the city; soon she finds herself distracted by a snake charmer who cons her out of her precious note and frightens the girl half to death, finally driving home the reasons why her parents wanted her to avoid that part of the city. Fortunately she manages to get the money back, but before she gets to the market, she accidentally drops the bill. Later an old woman helps her go back to find it. Unfortunately, the money has blown beneath the curbside cellar grate of a closed shop. Many people gather on the grate while the vendors begin closing up for the upcoming holiday. All are interested in helping the girl get her money. They must hurry, for the fish vendor's shop is closing soon.
Art House & International , Drama , Kids & Family
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
October Films


Anna Bourkowska
as Old Woman
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Critic Reviews for The White Balloon (Badkonake sefid)

All Critics (20) | Top Critics (7)

By putting itself in sync with the rhythms of everyday life, it offers a reminder that the simplest forms of filmmaking can be the most satisfying.

Full Review… | February 13, 2001
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

Those with the patience to sit through all eighty-five minutes will uncover a sublime, unconventionally engrossing story.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Top Critic

There are LONG stretches of... well, real time.

December 31, 1999
Top Critic

Panahi has much the same kind of talent, a concern to make his film a kind of home for its characters, but he has not yet found [Kiarostami's] secret, how to find and hold the still point of the turning world.

December 31, 1999
The New Republic
Top Critic

We need to fall in love with Razieh to see the film properly, and we do.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

Raziah takes everything at face value, forcing us to look again at people and situations we would immediately judge as good or bad -- reason enough to see this film.

December 31, 1999
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The White Balloon (Badkonake sefid)

watched this when i was feeling sick and had a day off school... it only takes place on like 2 streets but it kept me wondring... it was sort of like you was on the quest for the fish as well.... i liked this movie because it was just realistic and like an everyday event that people can go through

Paul Atkinson
Paul Atkinson

This is my first film directed by Jafar Panahi, but I would say the more important credit is that it was written by Abbas Kiarostami. The film plays out much like Where Is My Friend's Home?, using a child with a very simple problem to illustrate the interactions of a community. You can't think of a much more stripped-down premise than "little girl wants to buy a goldfish", but Panahi & Kiarostami mine it for plenty of tension, insight and subtle social commentary. The fleeting hints at something sinister going on with the father (the son appears with unexplained bruises, the mysterious "second job") are intriguing. I must confess that the significance of the balloon vendor's ethnicity entirely escaped me until I started reading the IMDb message board, but I think you would have to be from the area to pick up on it. This is a terrific movie that does an awful lot with so little, and features some excellent, understated performances.

Martin Teller
Martin Teller

One of my favorite foreign films of all time. Razieh is one of the most memorable character in recent memory. There are so many good scenes. Like when she finds the snake and the snake charmer. Or when she struggles to get the dollar from the gutter she dropped it in. The entire battle to get the gold fish. The weird creepy soldier at the end. Her brother acting like a mad man. God damn fine movie. This got me into middle eastern films more. Great Concept, Great Execution!

Erick Freitas
Erick Freitas

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