Thursday, July 19, 2007

Le Voyage du Ballon Rouge

I remember seeing "The Red Balloon" by Albert Lamorisse at a kid's film festival a decade ago. It was a short film about a boy who finds a red balloon that follows him everywhere. The film had no dialogue that I can remember, but it was the visuals of that balloon in various locations that remain in my mind.

This remake by Hou Hsiao-hsien, I'm assuming, is an expansion of the original, especially since the original ran only 34 minutes. Add in the fact that he has Juliette Binoche in his cast, and I'm expecting a different film, but with the balloon still playing a striking visual. The film has already played at Cannes and will be playing in the Masters program. The basic summary of the film is:

Juliette Binoche portrays a mom who with her puppet shows, the classes she teaches and the two children, Simon and Louise, that she has been raising alone since their father left, she hasn't got a minute to herself. To help her, she takes in a young Taiwanese babysitter, Song Fang, who is a student at Paris University. On his way home from school, Simon, who is 7 years old, leads her through the streets and cafés of his neighborhood. Soon, Song Fang and Simon share an imaginary world: a strange red balloon follows them, even in the exhibition space of the Musée d'Orsay. While Juliette is caught up in a court case involving her tenant downstairs, who refuses to leave, every day, Son Fang becomes more important in her life. In the end, it is Song Fang's Asian perspective that helps Juliette get to grips with her life.

I really enjoyed Hou Hsiao-hsien's last film "Three Times" which had two actors portraying different characters in three time periods. Juliette Binoche is another actress, like Cate Blanchett, that I seek out movies she's in. She has such incredible range and never seems to get pigeon holed into portraying similar characters.

I'm sure this will be a film for viewers with patience. I don't expect there to be a lot of action or dramatic fireworks. It be a film, like the balloon in the title, that you just have to float along with.

3 comments:

the liberal samurai said...

Jeff,
I'm gonna try to see this one too. Actually my fest-mate Eric is the one who iss old on it as he is a fan of the director. Though the trailer hasn't really sold me :( Did you see Cache' at the fest a few years ago, Juliette was good but the film was way too slow.

GlenLake8 said...

Yes, I did. It certainly took awhile to get going, but once it did, it was very tense. Of course, I had heard about looking for the face in the final scene, and I didn't see anyone. It ticked me off. I know who I was supposed to see now, but at the time it was frusterating.

acumensch said...

I haven't seen Hou's other films, and niether did I see the French film it references. But I did not like Le Voyage du Balloon Rouge. Hou was present tonight at a premiere in Hamburg. But he received no applause. It was a lifeless film.