The film The Black Balloon by Elissa Down, explores the different interactions and complexities of families in a deep way. Throughout the film the Mollison family go through change and coming of age. The film explores these themes by showing how living with a brother and son with low functioning autism can influence these interactions with a family.
Through the film the characters relationships change and develop with the understanding of the people around the Mollison family. Change as a theme is evident throughout the film with the acceptance of Charlie by his brother Thomas, Thomas whole life he has been wishing that Charlie would become normal to save him the embarrassment and hardship of his day to day life because Charlie is different to everyone else. Thomas has developed through the film to come and accept and embrace Charlies differences and he has come to realises that Charlie is not going to change or develop. For example Charlie through a tantrum at the supermarkets because he wanted more groceries that the family couldn’t afford and because he couldn’t get what he wanted. The tantrum that Charlie threw made everyone stare, look and judge Charlie, these occasional tantrums and meltdowns wont change Charlie wont change and by the end of the movie Thomas come to accept that Charlie wont change. This moment is realised when Thomas gets up on stage with Charlie and dances in his performance even though Thomas found it embarrassing and belittling.
In the film coming of age for Thomas is a large part of the film, this is relatable for the teenage audience because they are all going or are going to go through this stage in their lives. Coming of age it the transition in life from adolescence to adulthood and Jackie helps Thomas through this coming of age and she also helps him come to realize that Charlie’s not going to change. Thomas isn’t growing up in typical circumstance because his older brother bring his a lot of unintentional grief, hardship and embarrassment. Thomas coming of age is reinforced with his relationship with Jackie throughout the film. Jackie comes to accept that Thomas doesn’t have a typical life or family and if she wants to be with Thomas she has to also accept the Mollison family for who they are.