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The Flight of the Red Ballon

Hou Hsiao Hsien
Le voyage du ballon rouge
France 2007 / 113’

The main character, Suzanne (memorable, in a great part an improvised performance by Juliette Binoche) tries to combine the impossible - she works, raises a toddler Simon (her husband, an author, left her and it seems he isn't coming back any time soon), plans her older daughter's studies, prepares a schedule for her new Chinese baby-sitter, and fights with her former friend who isn't paying her for the rented flat. She's constantly running somewhere, she throws on her jacket with a dashing motion, but she can also suddenly stop and think.

You can read The Flight of the Red Balloon as a film about becoming accustomed to a strange world - in the case of a toddler, of a Chinese girl in downtown Paris and finally of a woman gradually realising that she can rely only on herself. All these perspectives are justified and incomplete and they all lead us to the same admiration of cinema magic. And this is this magic that makes this simple story change into pure film poesy before our very eyes.

Paweł T. Felis, Gazeta Wyborcza

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