Flight of the Red Balloon

Director: Hou Hsaio-Hsien
Year Released: 2007
Rating: 1.5

Only HHH would take a beloved children's short about friendship and innocence - Albert Lamorisse's The Red Balloon - and turn it into a boorish exercise in semiotics. The basic framework of a boy's relationship with his diva mother (Juliette Binoche) and his Chinese nanny is a good place to start, but little develops in terms of conflict or resolution (Binoche freaks out often and then calms down) - Hou could care less about the boy's feelings about living in a single-parent family or delve into the nanny's career as a filmmaker or follow any of their lives very far, he'd much rather draw attention to the mechanics of filmmaking (and film language) and - quite selfishly - himself as puppet master. Many regard Hou as one of the greats, but I think even some of the most difficult and obscure of filmmakers do, on occasion, possess some kind of concern for their characters, and I've never been convinced he does. Simply put, I think he forgot it in people.