Flight of the Red Balloon (PG)

Film

Drama

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Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>5</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>3</span>/5
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Time Out says

Tue Mar 11 2008

Cinema rarely soothes the heart and mind with the grace and quiet intellect of this wonderful new work from Taiwanese master Hou Hsiao-Hsien. Commissioned by Paris’s Musée d’Orsay and taking Albert Lamorisse’s 1956 children’s film ‘Le Ballon Rouge’ as its base, it’s the director’s second project (the first was 2003’s Japan-set ‘Café Lumière’) to be shot outside of his homeland. It’s also one of his finest.

Adopting a typically muted approach to narrative, Hou’s intensely lyrical film offers a tiny window onto the chaotic day-to-day travails of Parisian puppet voice artist Suzanne (Juliette Binoche, at her semi-improvisational best) who is in the midst of dealing with the shifty tenants of her pokey upstairs apartment, an absentee husband and a visiting film student from Taiwan who is babysitting her inquisitive young son, Simon.

It’s a film that basks in the importance of life’s minutiae and gently invites us to draw our own conclusions from the material as we would from a photograph, a painting or a poem; a process that is explained in an ingenious final scene where Simon is told how to deconstruct Félix Vallotton’s painting ‘The Balloon’. Perspective, as Hou affirms, is the key, and as an outsider casting a fresh eye over the City of Lights, he compounds the notion that different people can interpret the same things in completely different ways.

It’s also gorgeously constructed, with burnished russet and gold photography lending the French capital a swooning, dusky hue which is further bolstered by Lee Ping Bing’s long, floating tracking shots and the mournful piano on the soundtrack. It’s an exceptional piece of filmmaking, intricate, elaborate and exuding warmth and wisdom from its every frame.

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Release details

Rated:

PG

UK release:

Fri Mar 14, 2008

Duration:

115 mins

Users say

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5

Average User Rating

4.4 / 5

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LiveReviews|4
1 person listening
Ale

I saw the original version of this film as a young child, as in the Buenos Aires of my childhood we were taken to see Russian and European cinema as well as Disney. I still remember this film, and I now would like my 3 year old to watch it and see what happens. Our perception has been "de-trained" by the fast pace of cheap media and the Hollywood approach. There are great things about this pace but it would be interesting to retrain ourselves to get something out of poetry and arts that offer us alternatives to it.

Ale

I saw the original version of this film as a young child, as in the Buenos Aires of my childhood we were taken to see Russian and European cinema as well as Disney. I still remember this film, and I now would like my 3 year old to watch it and see what happens. Our perception has been "de-trained" by the fast pace of cheap media and the Hollywood approach. There are great things about this pace but it would be interesting to retrain ourselves to get something out of poetry and arts that offer us alternatives to it.

pauline E

I was bored from beginning to end - I wanted it to end. I found the music annoying and the fact that nothing really happens. As for examining the minutiae of life .. ok it did that. Paris as a bustling every day lived in place I suppose was shown. But, I certainly wouldn't recommend it as a night out at the movies. Perhaps ok if you want to discuss the methods etc in detail of its construction. Good possibly for film/art/media students.