Dave Franco and Abbi Jacobson are two actors who aren’t typically associated with serious dramas. After Franco’s stint in the Bad Neighbours films and Abbi’s amazing work on Broad City, comedy is generally where these actors fortes will lie. However, 6 Balloons is a welcome foray for these two into the world of drama, showing the versatility of these two already talented actors.
6 Balloons follows Katie (Jacobson) as she navigates how to cope with her brother Seth’s (Franco) addiction to heroin whilst on a brutal drive to a detox centre as well as juggling her own life.
This movie is raw, tense and real. It truthfully portrays drug addiction and how it affects the people involved, highlighting the user as well as their family. This is a very real story of just one night in the lives of this family, more specifically a sister and brother, as they try to navigate the world through the eyes of addiction.
The simplicity of the execution of this movie will have a lot of audience members writing off this movie as boring. There are no Pulp Fiction-esque overdose scenes, no over the top sickness scenes like in Trainspotting. This is a genuine, emotionally captivating and uncomfortable representation of the life of an addict.
Abbi Jacobson and Dave Franco really bring the heart and rawness to this movie. Jacobson’s Katie, the uptight sister who just wants to make sure her brother is okay, demonstrates exactly how anyone would act in the same situation. She so desperately wants her brother to be okay that she ruins her own plans and life in order to help him achieve it, despite the fact that he has abused her trust and her support many times before.
Franco is brilliant as heroin addict Seth. He flits between withdrawal symptoms to over-excited and high in a flash, demonstrating the true versatility of Franco himself. Even though he is an addict, the way that he is played makes him appear as just a normal bloke, nice enough, just with something inside him that had gone a little bit wrong. This normality that was brought to the character really emphasised the empathy that I felt towards his character, as well as the situation of the family as a whole.
This movie is a brilliant example of how addiction is a family disease. Even though it only is done by one person, the entire family suffers for the addict as well. This is demonstrated throughout the movie through the metaphor of drowning: Katie and her family are in way over their heads. Not only does the addiction define the dynamic of the family, but drags them all down like a drowning man.
This film is not perfect. Although it is a stellar representation of the life of an addict, some parts felt a bit jarring. For example, the inclusion of the mindfulness tape as a running commentary ruined the pace and dynamic of the movie in some parts, which prevented the emotion of some scenes to be felt as deeply and dramatically as it should have been. However, despite it’s 75-minute running time, this movie managed to create tension and emotion deep enough that the characters felt as though I genuinely knew them.
It isn’t often that such a short film can create such an impact. You can’t help feeling that something terrible will happen at any moment unless something wore happens first. It is tense, it is uncomfortable, but it is true. The realness of this story and the openness of the characters emotions bring 6 Balloons to life.