A Devastatingly Powerful Look At Heroin Addiction
If there’s one thing Indie film 6 Balloons manages to achieve, it’s realistically depicting the devastating impact heroin addiction can have on a family. It’s during these moments that 6 Balloons is incredibly powerful and absorbing but unfortunately the rest of the film lacks the same focused drive. The beginning in particular takes far too long to get into the bulk of the story and during this crucial part of the run time, may well turn some people away before Balloons truly showcases what it can do.
The story predominantly follows Katie (Abbi Jacobson) as she tries to plan a surprise birthday party for her boyfriend whilst struggling to deal with the demands of her family and friends. At only 70 minutes, 6 Balloons feels it wastes a good chunk of that time introducing characters that don’t really feature that heavily in the overall plot. Katie’s Mum Gloria (Jane Kaczmarek) dominates the run time early on but once we’re introduced to Katie’s brother Seth (Dave Franco) she’s forgotten about and has a tiny sliver of screen time late on. We find out early on that Seth has relapsed back into heroin and as Katie struggles to find a detox centre for her deteriorating brother, she has to try and look after her young niece at the same time and large chunks of this make for some very uncomfortable viewing.
6 Balloons won’t be for everyone and despite its slow start, this artistic, powerful film more than makes up for it during some of its more intimate, emotionally charged moments. At times the film is a little too artistic for its own good; off-centre shots of characters, quick close-ups and some disorientating editing combine to accentuate the chaotic nature of these moments but are also equally as frustrating, making it difficult to focus on what’s happening. On the other hand, there are some beautiful shots here with one in particular featuring an overhead shot showing Katie changing her niece’s nappy in a dingy bathroom while Seth is in a cubicle. There are numerous shots like this dotted throughout the film but the execution is pretty hit or miss at times. Thankfully the film’s piano score is excellent and does a great job of conveying the emotions of the characters on screen. Some slick effects including audio muffling and a few subtle echoing effects manage to consistently excel where the camera work doesn’t.
6 Balloons is an artistic, raw, devastating look at just how destructive heroin addiction can be. There are some really uncomfortable moments here and a lot of this stems from the excellent performances from the 2 lead characters, Katie and Seth. 6 Balloons has all the ingredients to be a great film but the main plot of the film lacks a cohesive structure, takes far too long to get into the bulk of the story and the abrupt ending leaves many of the supporting cast lacking an ending to their arcs. Still, 6 Balloons is one of the better Netflix Original films and an interesting Indie film in its own right, even if it is a little too artistic for its own good at times.