Friday, July 25, 2008

The Conscious Balloon

Flight of the Red Balloon (Hsiao-hsien Hou, 2007)
*** (A must see)

Hou Hsiao-hsien, the Twaiwanese film-maker was commissioned to remake Albert Lamorisse Le Ballon Rouge (1956) by the Musée D`Orsay. Mr.Hou is one of the greatest narrative filmmakers and his structural innovations focus on a contemplative model instead of a conservative narrative by focusing on impression, gestures, moments and moods. The story takes place in a contemporary Paris. Suzanne is a performer in an adult puppeteer theatre and lives humbly in her small bourgeois apartment. The two principle characters are the realistic Suzanne (Juliette Binoche) who is trying to attain an emotional equilibrium and her charming son Simon (Simon Iteanu). Their characters are developed through melodrama as Suzanne fights with one of her tenants and her ex-husband while Simon learns to play the piano, plays and goes about his day. The hired nanny Song (Fang Song) observes the family. She is a film student who has a deep appreciation for life and genuinely enjoys the time she spends with Simon. Like the balloon she is a calm, self-contained observer. Red Balloon is beautifully shot with a subliminal style using window reflections, shallow focus and long tracking scenes due to the director of photography Mark Lee. From an unreachable height the balloon represents a free floating metaphor. In my humble opinion it represents transcendence. The potential self-realization that can be achieved that is always present in ones life. The sincerity of the performances showcases each characters inner emotion, feelings and thoughts.

The film is playing July 25th to August 4th at the Bytowne Cinema.

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