Thursday, April 5, 2018

Movie with Abe: 6 Balloons

6 Balloons
Directed by Marja-Lewis Ryan
Released April 6, 2018

The passage of time is an influential device in film that can be used to show the way in which characters are transformed by their experiences. Sprawling biopics and other epics might choose to spotlight their protagonists over the course of their entire lives, beginning at childhood and finishing at the end of a long and eventful career. Meeting a character over a short period of time provides the opportunity for a different kind of interaction, one that doesn’t have the advantage of years for a person to grow but can prove just as dynamic a journey.

Katie (Abbi Jacobson) is planning a surprise party for her boyfriend Jack (Dawan Owens). She starts her day by picking up her overbearing mother (Jane Kaczmarek), who gets a little too into their shopping trip, and then goes to get her brother Seth (Dave Franco). At home with his young daughter, Ella (Charlotte and Madeline Carel), it becomes immediately clear to Katie that Seth has relapsed. While she struggles to get to the party on time, Katie finds herself preoccupied with getting Seth the heroin fix he needs so that he won’t be forced to go to rehab and potentially lose custody of the daughter he so loves, driving all across Los Angeles in search of some solution to her predicament.

In this case, meeting Katie just a short time before Seth stumbles onto the scene and forces her to divert her attention exclusively to cleaning up the mess he has made doesn’t enable her to be established as a character in her own right. Instead, Katie is developed in relation to the people she spends time with, protesting her mother’s irritating habits but still allowing them to be on full display and then scolding her brother for his latest lapse but helpless not to do everything in her power to cover up the way Seth has screwed up and get him back to a good place.

Jacobson does a spectacular job of displaying immense personality from the start, taking what Katie gets and reacting without much of a filter, frequently swearing in front of her young niece, seemingly unaware that she is present in those moments since she is in such a frustrated state. The film doesn’t demand much of Franco other than to seem out of it most of the time and occasionally charm when he shows Seth’s love for his daughter, and as a result Jacobson gets an appropriate spotlight in a film that wanders without much of an endpoint in sight, showcasing a journey without a demonstrated purpose.


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