Six Balloons gives a new twist to the usual family dynamics surrounding addiction. A voice recording plays in the background in scenes where Katie, played by Abbi Jacobson, fights her urge to gain control of her addicted brother, played by Dave Franco. It’s visually represented by water rising in a car to show that she’s drowning in her own anxiety.
Franco, known for 21 Jump Street, and Jacobson, known for Broad City, tap into a more emotional role than they’ve taken in the past, but snippets of their comedic banter come up in their long drives through the LA city streets.
The story follows the eventful night through the streets of LA of the over achieving Katie and her heroin addicted brother Seth. This isn’t your typical concerned family member of an addict who is forcing the afflicted to go to rehab, rather Katie tries to hide Seth’s addiction from those around them in order to get through the night.
After being in and out of rehab multiple times, Katie goes to pick up Seth and his daughter, Ella, from their home for a surprise birthday party Katie is throwing for her boyfriend. She realizes quickly that Seth is not well, and she knows that he has probably started using again and the story jumps off from there.
Some details about this story are stereotypical of addicts, such as Seth has borrowed a lot of money from people over the years in order to go to rehab, and he doesn’t have insurance. But the relationship between Seth and Katie creates something that I haven’t seen represented in cinema before.
Six Balloons is on Netflix now.
Reviewed by Monica Ryan