TIFF 2019: Our Review of ‘Balloon’

TIFF 2019: Our Review of ‘Balloon’

Jinpa is the name of Pema Tseden’s award winning film and his leading actor. Both have reputations great enough to makes audiences want to watch the film Balloon.

Balloon, Tseden’s new film, has Jinpa playing Dargye, struggling as a sheep herder. Working hard, he has to care for his devoted, dutiful wife Drolkar (Sonam Wangmo).

Rounding out their Tibetan family are three sons, two of them being youthfully unruly. There’s also Drolkar’s sister (Yangshik Tso), a Buddhist nun hiding from her past.

Tseden makes sure that we get a sense of this manageable yet difficult household. Things get worse, however, when Drolkar, who inadvertently broke China’s child policies before, gets pregnant.

The title, by the way, refers to the sexually active couple’s reproductive health devices. Or it should, but their younger sons keep stealing them, thus the pregnancy.

Tseden, who is obviously Tibetan, seems to be free in his depiction of Tibet. It’s nice for the People’s Republic to represent non mainstream ethnicities and religious values.

It’s also nice to see a couple of color who see sex positive. Nonetheless, there’d still some judgment on this couple who ‘can’t stop having their kids’.

The One Child Policy also throws a wrench within global conversations on choice. There’s still that sense here that those choices to stop reproducing more children are hers.

Nonetheless, as real as things get for this family, Tseden adds some levity here. Politics aside, he knows how to incorporate emotions an perspectives in his effective films.

For more information on Balloon go to https://www.tiff.net/events/balloon.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watch movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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