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Columnist
Heartfelt 'The Black Balloon' at Century Centre
By Dann Gire | Daily Herald Film Critic
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Published: 3/4/2009 12:07 AM

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Fifteen-year-old Thomas (Rhys Wakefield) dies an embarrassed teen's death every day at his Australian high school. His very pregnant mom (Toni Collette) is about to pop. Meanwhile, his pop (Erik Thomson) puts him in charge of his autistic older brother Charlie (Luke Ford), who likes to play with his feces and escapes into the neighborhood wearing underpants and a smile. Elissa Down's drama accesses the adolescent mindset with insight and accuracy, and provides a bittersweet glimpse into the unvarnished joys and resentments of caring for a challenged family member. The luminous Gemma Ward plays Jackie, a student who likes Thomas and sees past his frustrations into his soul. This is a terrific, heartfelt lesson in accepting your family. Winner of six Australian Film Institute Awards. (PG-13) for sexual situations, violence and language. 97 minutes.

Starts today at the Century Centre Cinema, Chicago.

'... Loved You So Long'

Kristin Scott Thomas was on the shortlist of potential 2008 Oscar nominees for her understated performance as a doctor paroled from prison for killing her son in Philippe Claudel's "I've Loved You For So Long." Presented by the After Hours Film Society. $9 general admission. In French with subtitles. PG-13 (smoking) 117 minutes.

Lake-effect film fest!

The Lake County Film Festival continues to showcase local indie films. Go to lakecountyfilmfest.com. Through Tuesday at the College of Lake County, Grayslake.