Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Black Balloon The|
Actors: Toni Collette, Luke Ford, Rhys Wakefield, Erik Thompson, Gemma Ward
Director: Eilssa Down
BLACK BALLOON - DVD Movie
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Fun, Wild & Honest
John Bald | Maine, United States | 05/29/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is not a tearjerker about a handicapped young man and his saintly family, thank goodness. It's the story of an Australian family rattling along like a train about to derail at any minute. A very honest, accurate portrait of life with a mentally handicapped teenager. It's a fun but serious story, often funny, moving and heartbreaking sometimes.
Toni Collette is wonderful and lovable as the mother!
The main character, Thomas, is a quiet teenager who has started at a new high school and spies a girl in his gym class. Beyond those challenges he has an older brother, Charlie, with fairly severe autism and ADD. Life at home is wild and unpredictable. When keys are accidentally left in the front door, Charlie opens it and runs down the middle of the street. He happens to be wearing only sneakers, underwear and his favorite monkey-ears hat. It's funny and frightening at the same, because he's obviously in danger of harming himself. Brother Thomas runs after him, and we get the feeling Thomas has probably been rescuing his brother for all of his life.
It's a very good story, the characters are fun to watch. All families should be blessed with the love, stamina and sense of humor that these folks have. But the film is never syrupy or preachy.
Personal note: I have a teenage son with autism. I would not recommend this movie to families who have a little child w/autism, because it would probably be very depressing. It's not possible to really predict what level of impairment an autistic child will have when they reach their teens. I just feel that this movie could easily add fear and stress to parents of, say, a Kindergartner with autism -- and those folks need only love and support!
OTOH, I enjoyed 'Black Balloon' immensely because the teenage years have arrived for us, and it's fun to see another family like ours. No surprise that the Australian director and cowriter grew up with an autistic brother.
I just have to mention the childrens novel 'Rules' by Cynthia Lord, which is the story of a 12-year-old girl who is coping with a younger brother w/autism. As with 'The Black Balloon,' it's intriguing to see things through the eyes of the sibling and the family as a whole.
Here's to families who face a major challenge and find ways to get by, even laughing about it some days!
Gilbert Grape on Steroids
Eric Sanberg | Berwyn, IL United States | 04/03/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is pretty much the Aussie version of What's Eating Gilbert Grape. The difference here is the special needs brother is severely autistic and he also has A.D.D. While the DiCaprio character in Gilbert Grape was challenged, he never got into any serious trouble. In The Black Balloon, Charlie Mollinson needs near constant attention. I was exhausted after only 10 minutes of watching him.
So here's the rub. Mom's pregnant and is having a hard time keeping up. She'll need to enter the hospital shortly before due date. Dad works in the army so he's gone 40 hours a week, so much of the burden falls on brother Thomas' shoulders. He's the new kid in his high school and the insensitivity of his fellow students makes the task of caring for his brother seem even more daunting.
He does manage (as in Gilbert Grape) to hook up with a young lady who is not put off by his brother's challenges. Love blossoms but it's still a rough road and Thomas blames his autistic brother (beats him) when everything seems it might fall apart.
This is a genuinely good movie. Toni Collette does a great job as the mom (she also helped produce). Luke ford does an outstanding job as the autistic brother Charlie Mollinson. And while Rhys Wakefield does a solid job playing Thomas, it's a just a bit tough to really notice him next to Ford's performance.
If there is any complaint I have about the movie it's that it really doesn't end, it just kind of stops. Yes you see the two brothers in a final scene and yes Thomas is accepting what his life will be with his challenged brother, and the scene is structured to let the viewer know that life will go on for all of these people. But I just didn't feel satisfied. I was actually caught off guard when the credits began to roll because I assumed there was more to come. But this is a somewhat minor complaint given the overall quality of the film. It's well worth the time investment.
Story of a families limitless love
Amit Talpade | New York | 06/19/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Black Balloon is not the average film that you hoped for. It is about a family that copes with having a child with autism and severe ADHD and gives us glimpses of their love that comes through this journey which tests one's patience. It is also about brotherly love that is unique. I thought that the beginning of the movie was great when everything on the screen is labeled to make it easier for the autistic child to understand. In fact most learning that autistic children do comes from identifying objects that are common in their environment. This Australian film is about an army family who has been on the move constantly, moving in to a suburb of Sydney. The family is dad Simon (Erik Thomson) army man, mom Maggie (Toni Collette) who is pregnant, Thomas (Rhys Wakefield) and his autistic brother Charlie (Luke Ford). The story follows their life but also deals with the daily challenges that a family faces when dealing with a child or brother with autism. The elopement, the smearing of feces scenes can be perceived as funny but they are not because these are behaviors that can result from the autistic child. The performances in the movie were excellent, notably Thomas trying to deal with a new school, girlfriend and also attempting to cope with his brothers tantrums and his limits of tolerance. The mother Maggie as the epitome of patience, trying to balance her pregnancy, taking care of her autistic child and dealing with the adolescent Thomas. Although there were no subtitles I highly recommend this excellent movie. 5 star. 6/18/10"