Film festival: <i>Flight of the Red Balloon</i>

01:43, Jan 31 2009

Flight of the Red Balloon is a whimsical tribute to Albert Lamorisse's 1956 film Red Balloon, another film playing at the International Film Festival. 

Commissioned by the Paris musée d'Orsay for its 20th anniversary, the film follows the day-to-day life of single-mum Suzanne (a deliciously dishevelled Juliette Binoche) as she tries to juggle the various demands on her time.

There are problems with a downstairs neighbour and complications of bringing up a son in Paris and having her daughter living in a separate city.

Thrown into the mix is the new nanny - Song Fang (playing herself) - a film student who is making a film about a boy and a red balloon.

Helmed by Taiwanese director Hou Hsian-hsien, the movie is a gentle look at life in the city of Paris. At times the architecture of Paris is itself a character in the film.

The dialogue is sparse and to the point, forcing the audience to focus on the camerawork and frame composition.

There are long periods when the camera doesn't move. At one point a static shot takes in the side of a bus for a minute before ever-so-slowly panning to a side street, moving into the air to follow the path of the red balloon,

There are no Hollywood chase scenes, no dramatic plot twists, and nothing much happens. But Hou still manages to create a warm portrait of off-beat family life in Paris, and that's the beauty of Flight of the Red Balloon.

*Flight of the Red Balloon is screening as part of the International Film Festival. Visit