The Black Balloon is a charming film out of Sydney, Australia that is honest, insightful, and light-hearted. Charlie (Luke Ford) is a teenage boy with autism, complicated by ADHD, and lives with his brother Thomas (Rhys Wakefield), father ( Erik Thomson) and mother (Toni Collette).
Writer-director Elissa Down draws from her own experiences growing up with two autistic brothers. In the film, we encounter neighbors and supermarket goers who do not understand why Charlie acts the way he does. Without agitation, Charlie is a loveable boy who communicates through sign-language and nonverbal sounds but, as the film documents, is just as capable of uncontrollable outbursts. The film intimately introduces us to Charlie and his family–a perfect illustration of love under stress and without a lot of contrived sentimentality.