The Black Balloon

The Black Balloon

Elissa Down (2008)

15 Certificate


Our Score
Life with a severely autistic sibling is explored with unflinching honesty in this deeply moving, Australian coming-of-age tale. Inspired by director/co-writer Elissa Down's own circumstances, the boldly unsentimental drama sees a 1980s teenage army brat (Home and Away's Rhys Wakefield) trying to adjust to an intolerant new school, while helping his dad and heavily pregnant mum (Toni Collette) care for a mentally challenged brother (Luke Ford) he both loves and resents. Down and her brilliant cast admirably resist the usual cuddly Rain Man-style clichés of movie disability, provoking thought and empathy by making the characters and their experiences seem powerfully real. Scenes where aggression erupts are particularly hard-hitting, contrasting with the much-needed moments of sweetness between Wakefield and an open-minded classmate (radiant model-turned-actress Gemma Ward). Still, it is the strong messages about family, acceptance and responsibility that leave the greatest impression, and ensure a satisfying if predictable ending.


Fifteen-year-old Thomas Mollison struggles to adapt to life in his new neighbourhood. When his mother becomes pregnant, he is left caring for his autistic brother who seems intent on stifling all possibility of him having a normal adolescence. Drama, starring Rhys Wakefield, Luke Ford and Toni Collette.

Cast & Crew

Thomas Mollison Rhys Wakefield
Charlie Mollison Luke Ford
Maggie Mollison Toni Collette
Simon Mollison Erik Thomson
Jackie Masters Gemma Ward
Director Elissa Down
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Other Information

Language: EnglishColourGuidance: Contains swearing.Available on: DVD