Flight of the Red Balloon

Flight of the Red Balloon

Flight of the Red Balloon

Taiwanese master Hou Hsiao-hsien delivers a picture of life in Paris, and homage to Albert Lamorisse's beloved Red Balloon (1956).

There's often a woman at the centre of Hou's pictures and here it is Suzanne (Juliette Binoche), barely juggling the conflicting demands of motherhood, infuriating apartment-sharing arrangements, and her art as a professional puppeteer. To help care for her seven-year-old son, she hires a Chinese film student who's working on a remake of the Lamorisse film. It's not Hou's way to build a dramatic structure around a character's difficulties. He doesn't need to: no other filmmaker alive possesses his ability to distil the essential dramas of people's lives into exquisitely observed sequences of everyday business. 

2008Rating: PG, low level offensive language113 minsFrance, TaiwanFrench with English subtitles
Drama

Flight of the Red Balloon / Reviews

Flicks, Team

Flicks, Team

This delicate, snail-paced slice of Parisian life is part remake, part-homage to Albert Lamorisse’s 1956 film The Red Balloon, in a which a boy is followed around the streets of the French capital by a helium-filled crimson bladder with a life of its own. This time it is Taiwanese director Hsiao-hsien Hou who uses the floating orb for all sorts of emblematic, metaphorical brain stimulation, while Montmartre and Notre Dame shimmer and hum away in the background.

Full review
Variety

Variety

This eloquent study of loneliness and postmodern drift likely will be received with more admiration than rapture by the helmer's followers. But Juliette Binoche's turn as a harried single mom and pic's enlivening portrait of domestic rupture make this a highly accessible Hou.

Full review
The New York Times

The New York Times

In the end what elevates Mr. Hou’s films to the sublime -- and this one comes close at times -- are not the stories but their telling.

Full review
The Guardian

The Guardian

A pleasant if supercilious homage.

Full review
Stuff

Stuff

There are no Hollywood chase scenes, no dramatic plot twists, and nothing much happens. But Hou still manages to create a warm portrait of off-beat family life in Paris, and that's the beauty of Flight of the Red Balloon.

Full review
Premiere Magazine

Premiere Magazine

This is not a children's picture, although it touches on the imaginative powers and emotional resilience of children. It's another slice of Hou's distinctly poetic realism, and as such, also a kind of tribute to Paris -- the Paris of both today and of the older film.

Full review
New Zealand Herald

New Zealand Herald

A superb display of pure cinema from one of the masters of the medium.

Full review
BBC

BBC

It's a bit like eavesdropping on a bus - occasionally you hear something interesting, but it's mostly mundane.

Full review