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Flight of the Red Balloon Review Critics


Dave White Profile

It quietly takes your hand … Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 5.0

    out of 100

    Universal acclaim
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 100

    out of 100

    Chicago Tribune Michael Phillips

    A gem made by a filmmaker who loves life, and knows how to capture its ebb and flow and sweet complication.

    Read Full Review

  • 90

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    What Mr. Hou has done is borrow power and some gentle intimations of a state of grace from one of the most enchanting images in movie history.

    Read Full Review

  • 91

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Lisa Schwarzbaum

    Juliette Binoche is outstanding as a wildly untogether single mother who parks her son with a French-speaking Chinese nanny while she whirls and worries.

    Read Full Review

  • See all Flight of the Red Balloon reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 12+

Beautifully shot art-house drama won't interest young kids.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this French-language film will not appeal to kids who aren't ready to read subtitles during movies. Families with foreign-film-savvy children should know that this one includes some mature themes about family make-up (single mother, absentee father, full-time nanny), relationships, and urban life. There's no violence or consumerism, but a few French profanities are translated into the subtitles ("s--t" is the most frequent culprit). Unsurprisingly, some adult characters smoke and drink wine.

  • Families can talk about the movie's artful depiction of life in France, puppetry, and photography/filmmaking.
  • The mother's regular smoking could be framed within the context of European culture versus the United States' increasing "no smoking" culture. What are the cultural differences and similarities between life in France and life in the United States?
  • How is the son's absent father depicted? How is this unconventional family portrayed?
  • What do you think the red balloon symbolizes in the film?

The good stuff
  • message true2

    Messages: The themes of the movie are about the importance of family, art, and city life.

  • rolemodels true2

    Role models: Although the absentee father is a negative role model, Suzanne is a loving single mother who's realistically frazzled at trying to juggle the work-life balance. Her dedication to her son and her career is refreshing to see on film. Song is a caring nanny who allows Simon to explore his artistic side.

What to watch for
  • violence false0

    Violence: Not an issue

  • sex false1

    Sex: Discussion of marriage and relationships but nothing overtly sexual.

  • language false2

    Language: Subtitled language includes "bitch," "s--t," "idiot," and "stupid."

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not an issue

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Not surprisingly, since this is a French film, adults smoke cigarettes fairly regularly and drink wine with meals.