6 Balloons: Writer & Director Marja-Lewis Ryan brilliantly depicts heroin addiction with grim effect.

Family. You would do anything for them. Your own flesh and blood, no matter how hard times can get. A support network is needed in place to make sure we stick on the right track. Sometimes, you can get derailed and pushed onto a different path. Nevertheless, your family will always make sure you’re stable. It can be difficult however when it comes to addition and stubbornness can make it virtually impossible to say no.

Netflix is pushing out the harsh, thought-provoking niches and that continues on with Marja-Lewis Ryan’s 6 Balloons. Most directors would be scared to cover such topics under such a harsh microscope but it gives such a detailed and effective portrayal of what it’s like for a family to suffer whilst one of their loved ones is suffering from a heroin addiction. It closes in on addiction, not allowing you to put your focus elsewhere making you feel uncomfortable. This is what Netflix has mastered the art of publishing and broadcasting on their site.

6 Balloons grimly follows Katie (Abbie Jacobson), a young woman living a perfectly happy life with her new boyfriend. Whilst planning a surprise party for her new partner, she goes to pick up her brother, Seth (Dave Franco) and her niece, Ella (Charlotte & Madeline Carel). Arriving at the house, she is suspicious of her brother’s actions, soon realising that he has relapsed on heroin. Trying to discover the reasoning, Seth struggles to stay away from the drug and find it difficult to detox. Katie, however, finds herself theoretically drowning in a sea of pressure, not knowing what to do with the situation. Does she continue to allow her brother to suffer from his heroin addiction alone or does she stick by his side through this difficult time?

The grim reality of heroin addiction is hard to process, for the sufferer and the family that surrounds them. This film shows both sides of the story. As much as it may be the takers fault for getting themselves into that situation, it’s hard for the family to process they have their own flesh and blood as a drug addict. Marja-Lewis Ryan directs and writes the perfect story, as an audience, we are instantly emotionally connected to the family and the bond they have together as a unit. Abbie Jacobson leads the way and performs with pure emotion towards the situation, making it hard-hitting with the audience behind her views as her brother takes the drugs. Dave Franco is impressive and believable in his performance. Focusing and making sure he accurately portrays the life of an addict, making himself hard to watch, especially with a young one beside him.

What made it even more so sickening was the constant referencing towards the point of view of Ella. We, as an audience, see the destruction of Seth through her eyes. Her young innocent mind being destroyed as her daddy suffers. An excellent angle covered by Marja-Lewis Ryan. The theoretical drowning of Katie as a character was a mind-bending process. Initially, I struggled to understand the meaning of her drowning, but it soon became clear as the film went on that Seth isn’t the only one struggling to process the situation. You see three different angles throughout. A loving sister, an addicted brother and a little girl that has no idea what is going on. A triangle of emotion, all processing it in different manners. With the film being a mind-boggling, hard-hitting, emotional piece, you will become attached to each individual character. How do you do it, Netflix? How do you do it?


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