Balloon (QÃ¬qiÃº), dir. Pema Tseden, Tibet / China 2019, 103 min., Tibetan with English subtitles, 12
When two of her three children blow up the household’s few remaining condoms after mistaking them for balloons, Drolkar (Sonam Wangmo) is left with an impossible dilemma. It’s the 1980s, and China has just introduced its one-child policy to control the size of families – and with three children already, there’s no way Drolkar can have another. But Dargye (Jinpa), her husband, won’t be deterred quite that easily.
Sex, faith and politics collide in the exceptional new film from Tibetan director Pema Tseden, who deftly balances his challenging subject matter with gentle humour and great tenderness. With its cool colour palette, attentive handheld camerawork and painterly passages, which seem to exist somewhere between this world and the next, Balloon approaches its weighty themes with a sense of wonder – and boasts scene-stealing performances from the two young boys whose actions set this whole powerful story in motion.
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