Commissioned by the president of the Musée d'Orsay in Paris, in celebration of its 20th anniversary, this small, inconsequential drama stars Juliette Binoche as a Parisian single mother caught between her career as a stage puppeteer and the care of her young son (Simon Iteanu) and his new nanny (Song Fang).
The director Hou Hsiao-Hsien uses his camera in a leisurely, not to say ponderous, manner, alighting on a scene and simply staring at it for minutes at a time. And sometimes not even a scene: long stretches of the film focus on the mysterious tomato-red balloon that shadows the son around the city streets. For a film that's almost two hours long, it needs a more dramatic crux than Binoche's angry phone calls to her ex-husband in Montreal.
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