Flight of the Red Balloon (2007)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Childhood Drama, Slice of Life  |   Release Date - Apr 4, 2008 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 113 min.  |   Countries - France   |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by Michael Buening

In Hou Hsiao-Hsien's tender Flight of the Red Balloon, an homage to the classic children's short The Red Balloon, the director expands on the original's themes of companionship, longing, and loss. The little boy Simon (Simon Iteanu) idles around Paris, accompanied by his Chinese nanny, Song (Song Fang), a film student who is also making an updated version of Albert Lamorisse's movie starring the boy. The red balloon, the color red itself, comes to represent everyday heartache, captured like spirit photography in the dramas enacted by Simon and his frazzled mother, Suzanne (Juliette Binoche), in their cramped apartment. Primarily it is about the melancholy nature of our loves -- for people, homes, and cultures -- and our wispy yearnings for their protection. The story is simple, but extraordinarily well told. Hou's long interior scenes shot from a fixed point, largely improvised by the actors, and infused with bleeding light sources have the exquisite emotional precision of the classical piano music permeating the soundtrack. Flight of the Red Balloon was featured in the 45th New York Film Festival and the 2007 Cannes Film Festival.