6 Balloons takes a raw and painful look at what it’s like to love an addict. Dave Franco and Abbi Jacobson star as brother and sister in this emotional drama.
The action takes place in a single day. Katie (Jacobson) is throwing a party for her boyfriend’s birthday. Numerous friends and her parents Gloria (Jane Kaczmarek) and Gary (Tim Matheson) are there.
Katie is off to pick up a cake and food and bring her brother Seth to the party, along with his young daughter Ella (Charlotte Carel and Madeline Carel).
In the car, Katie listens to a self help tape about letting go. We hear it as a voice over in many scenes. The tape talks about taking a boat out into a lake. There’s a motor, a paddle, but then there isn’t. There’s a leak. The boat fills with water. In each new chapter you start off from the dock. You decide whether or not to get in the boat. Sometimes you sink with the boat. Sometimes you paddle back to the dock.
It’s an effective metaphor for what’s happening with Katie, because she’s drowning in Seth’s addiction. When she picks up Seth and Ella, she knows immediately he’s using again.
We see her get pulled under by his need for drugs, even as she’s supposedly driving him to a rehab facility. She knows she’s doing the wrong thing enabling him, but she keeps doing it.
Through this whole, long, emotional night, Ella is with them. I don’t know how old Ella is supposed to be but she’s intelligent and vocal, even though she’s still in a diaper.
When Katie finally gets home to the party with a very high Seth and an overstimulated Ella in tow, we see how ineffective their parents are at dealing with Seth.
If you’ve ever been around an addict you know what it’s like. You know how they will beg and lie and steal and do anything no matter how hurtful to feed their addiction. We go through the film with Katie. We see her love, her efforts to help, her mistakes, her emotional pain, her breaking point.
6 Balloons is a powerful and real look at a family affected by addiction. It’s not an easy film to watch.
Marja-Lewis Ryan wrote and directed 6 Balloons. It’s currently available on Netflix.