Universal acclaim - based on 23 Critics What's this?

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Mixed or average reviews- based on 47 Ratings

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  • Summary: A highlight at the 2007 Cannes, Toronto, and New York film festivals, Flight of the Red Balloon is the latest masterpiece from Hou Hsiao Hsien. Inspired by Albert Lamorisse's 1956 Academy Award-winning classic, Flight of the Red Balloon, Hou expands on that film's key elements--a young boy, a red balloon, and Paris--to weave an achingly beautiful tale about the mysteries of familial bonds and the lingering effects the past has on us all. Simon, a precocious young boy, must deal with the increasing fragility of his mother, the loving yet preoccupied Suzanne. Completely immersed in her own tribulations, Suzanne hires Song, a Taiwanese film student, to help care for Simon. Together with Song, a unique extended family is formed, utterly interdependent yet lost in separate thoughts and dreams mirrored by a delicate, shiny red balloon. (IFC First Take) Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 23 out of 23
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 23
  3. Negative: 0 out of 23
  1. A gem made by a filmmaker who loves life, and knows how to capture its ebb and flow and sweet complication.
  2. Reviewed by: John Anderson
    Because it's one of the most beautiful films ever. Because it's a work of art on the order of a poem by Yeats or a painting by Rothko.
  3. Hou's first film made outside of Asia is his most emotionally turbulent, yet he remains, like the balloon, outside looking in, a compassionate but distant observer capturing it all with a graceful restraint and floating beauty that ultimately carried me away with it.
  4. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    The subject is the privileged state of childhood itself - how we're all lucky to have had it and how it so easily floats away from our grasp.
  5. Hou intends to celebrate the classic 1956 children's film "The Red Balloon," and he has done a beautiful job. In fact, he may well have created a future classic of his own.
  6. Too much of this film is attenuated and vague, but it has moments of deep melancholy.
  7. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    Not surprisingly, we're left with characters that feel only half sketched and fail to resonate on their own -- but onto which much can be read by Hou's most ardent fans -- in a poetic looking film that's ultimately as inflated and empty as the balloon itself.

See all 23 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 7 out of 21
  2. Negative: 8 out of 21
  1. RG
    Oct 26, 2008
    This is one of the most beautiful films of this year - the juxtaposition of the balloon on hovering over Paris with the the scenes of an extended family (suzanne, simon and song) floating through the cluttered Parisian apartment space is feast of casual beauty. Hou's approach lies in the simplicity of form - colors and framing and belief in his actors and image. there is plenty of real life drama here but nothing that is in your face (no close ups). hou's is def one the best directors out there in complete control of his images and sounds. Expand
  2. RalfioN.
    Jun 29, 2008
    That's a great movie for anyone who wants to become more attuned to the world we live in for almost two hours. Can't believe all the commentors and I saw the same film. It flew by. Expand
  3. KenDo.
    Jul 28, 2008
    Films paced like this are not everyone's cup of tea, but this movie has a damned good reason
  4. MartinR
    Jul 11, 2008
    I could not bear it for more than 40 minutes and simply walked out. I don't expect all movies to have clear plot, dialogues or obvious point, but film has to entertain me or at least keep my interest to enjoy it. Otherwise I may as well watch industrial camera or simply European street without any filmmaker being involved. I should have learnt my lesson with Cafe Lumiere, another agonizingly slow critically acclaimed feature of this master of standstill. Expand
  5. AndrewT
    Aug 22, 2008
    As a movie a 3, as a work of art hung on a wall, 9. I can see the point and the perspective, but is the memory at issue worth the canvas?
  6. DanB
    Sep 30, 2008
    In a word, Dull. Two hours of watching a frazzled mother, a quiet child and his equally quiet nanny go through their day to day. The most dramatic part of the film is when a tenant who is on screen for all of five minutes is to be evicted. A film for film students, and only them, with it's cracking of the fourth wall and subtle meta commentary. Supposedly the film is also about the dreams and thoughts of the three main characters, but they are never said aloud, or narrated, or even hinted at. If this film we're viewed by the deaf, they would miss nothing. Expand
  7. PaulB.
    Apr 20, 2008
    Pointless, with endless scenes of pure nothingness. No plot, no character development, practically no dialogue...just the dreaded balloon floating as aimlessly as the film. Expand

See all 21 User Reviews

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