Let the Balloon Go is a pallid adaptation of Ivan Southall’s celebrated children’s novel.It’s about John Sumner (Robert Bettles), a young boy with a crippled leg fighting for independence from an over-protective mother. Set in a country town in 1917, there are some clumsy fantasy sequences to tie in with the Great War, but none of the characters or incidents have much life - or surprise - to them.
Oliver Hawes’ uninspired direction doesn’t help. Bettles spends most of the film looking sullen and Bruce Spence, Ray Barrett and John Ewart barely register in minor roles. The drama is too earnest and the comedy too strained. But the central metaphor is not lost and conveys a nice message about taking a risk and letting go to experience life.Let the Balloon Go is made with care. Ironically, it’s the same enervating, cotton wool over-carefulness that the film condemns Mrs Sumner for.