This feature from Taiwanese helmer Hou Hsiao-hsien will mainly appease minimalist arthouse cineastes, as the storyline may not be in tune with those hoping for more than moving a piano.
Still, Flight of the Red Balloon (in French with English subtitles) lovingly contemplates Albert Lamorisse's 1956 movie The Red Balloon with extension into the distractions and isolation of the early 21st century.
The cast brings a spontaneity to what is essentially an extended family.
A slightly unkempt blonde coiffed Juliette Binoche is Suzanne, a puppeteer who does her own voices. She has a 7-year-old son Simon (Simon Iteanu) who happens to be followed around in Paris by a red balloon. Also, there is Song (Song Fang) as a Chinese film student who becomes Simon's nanny and lets him into her new project.
Binoche nicely captures the turmoil of Suzanne's daily life and some dark, wry wit seeps into the emotional underpinnings. Somewhat like her hairdo, her flat is rather messy, not helped by her husband headed to Montreal to pen a new book. And, her downstairs tenant (Hippolyte Giradot) is more arrogant than responsible; notably when it comes to finances.
Flight of the Red Balloon may not measure up to Hsiao-hsien's early home-based pictures, but this deliberate reflecting into dysfunctionality and a documentary-like joy is nearly as hypnotic as its score.
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