Movie Review – The White Balloon

Posted: December 8, 2013 in Movie Reviews
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

To say that I was amazed by Children of Heaven would be an understatement. Iranian films are always close to my heart. This film too was such one but couldn’t excel Children of Heaven. It still had the same warmth and down to earth splendor like Children of Heaven. This film in fact seems like starting from where Children of Heaven ends where the brother dips his legs in the pool which has fishes. Here we see another sibling pair, this time the sister wants fishes rather. We don’t see them as affectionate as Children of Heaven but a little more artistic effect was given to them here.


On the eve of Iranian New Year we see a curious little kid and her mother do shopping and radio has already started the countdown. We see shots similar to Children of Heaven, similar houses, similar people and more importantly it looks like the same path those kids took back home. They are a family of four with the girl asking for a costly gold fish from the market, her brother wanting a new shoe, her mother doing house hold chores and the father being another chauvinistic (according to us) individual who throws soap on the face of children but they don’t seem to hate him. But there is one scene where the mother tells her kid about the non-availability of money to satisfy their needs.

I’ll address them as brother, sister, father and mother as that’s how I could see the film, as a family. Aida Mohammadkhani as a young girl was fascinating and so were others but there was no overt cuteness that you usually give it to kids in a film. So the expressions were real. And we see the film through her. We too understand that buying such a costly fish at the stage her family is in is such a waste but we still long her to get that fish.

So when she first loses her money to the serpent handler and later in a drainage we are desperate that she gets it back. There a couple of brilliant scenes in the film which is cinematic as well as dramatic. The scene where the brother gets money for her sister to buy the fish and the one where he returns with bruises (my guess is that it’s a physical abuse by his father). Both were unexplained and both were good. These were the only cinematic intrusions to an otherwise splendid kid’s film.

It’s not only the kid but everyone around her who are good. The only part where I genuinely thought she’d miss the money was with the serpent handlers but once she got the money back we could know that no mishap is going to happen. The lady who helps the kid finding the money, the fish seller who gives fish for free, the shop keeper who helps with a stick to get the money, the soldier who offers candies and finally the balloon seller who in spite of getting into a fight with her brother returns back with the stick and bubble gum too. I’m not sure why the brother fails to buy a chewing gum from the blind seller.

The most brilliant part of the film is the climax. Once they get the money with the help of balloon seller the kids being their usual self run away happily getting the fish and all the characters in the film trespass but the guy who helped them sits with the lone white balloon. The sympathy that we had for the kids gets transported to the balloon seller within minutes. His longings are rather bigger than the kids who get happy for a fish. Who knows he might be an orphan wanting to have a family and friends. He could have bought the chewing gum from the only money he could have got for the day and he helped them as he couldn’t find any other means of celebrating the New Year.

The length of the move was a little close to 90 minutes and the events happening in the movie happens 3 or 4 hours before the New Year. Instead the film could have been actually been made an event happening 90 minutes before New Year.

  1. […] Other Opinions Are Available. What did these people have to say about The White Balloon? Time Out The New York Times Constant Scribbles […]

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