My love and compassion for you

It still remains


Thomas and Maggie are mother and son in the film The Black Balloon. Thomas’ older brother, Charlie, suffers from severe autism which forces Maggie to devote most of her time for him which causes her relationship with Thomas to be quite distant. Although, Thomas is very fond of Charlie but he would sometimes feel troubled towards him when Charlie would do something irrational. Several of the conflicts that occur evolving around Charlie throughout the film causes Thomas’ true feelings towards Charlie to surface and Maggie soon realises how isolated Thomas felt. As the story progresses, the distance between their relationship starts to close up as they understood each other more and more.

Communication and Interaction

Maggie and Thomas have a very simple and quite distant relationship. While Maggie is frequently occupied with looking after Charlie, whenever the two speak to each other it was very brief and kept short. Maggie is too busy with Charlie that she is completely oblivious to how isolated felt. However, as the story goes on Maggie begins to understand Thomas’ emotions. At Thomas’ 16th birthday dinner, Charlie does something inappropriate at the table and he and Thomas get into a physical fight, causing Thomas to show his anger and frustration towards Charlie. Maggie is able to see how Thomas really felt and later on joins him in the bathroom as he cried on her shoulder as she consoles him. This shows that despite the distant between them, Maggie still has her motherly unconditional love for Thomas.


Charlie is Thomas’ older brother who suffers from severe autism. Charlie can be considered as the ‘obstacle’ that keeps Maggie and Thomas from being closer. Due to his autism, Maggie dedicates most of her time to go to great lengths to take care of him, despite her pregnancy. During the day, she is often occupied with Charlie that she doesn’t pay much attention towards Thomas. When Thomas complains to Maggie about Charlie, she says that “Your brother will never be able to do the things you can Thomas. He will live with us for the rest of his life”. She is, however, unaware of how detached and alone Thomas feels. Though as the story continues, Thomas shows more and more of his feelings and Maggie starts to understand him more. A number of the usual conflicts that occur that have to do with Charlie closed more of the distance between them every time. Charlie, at first, was considered as the ‘obstacle’ between them but in the end, Charlie was also what brought them closer.

Surfacing emotions

It was all in slow motion. One minute we were sitting at the table having our dinner for Thomas’ birthday and the next Thomas was holding up Charlie’s game console with an expression on his face of seething rage, threatening to destroy it. “Charlie, don’t be ridiculous”, I said. He looked for a moment and smashed the console. Charlie wailed and grabbed the lamp next to him and lunged for Thomas. Simon and I immediately ran to them and tried to break them apart. As I did, I watched in horror as my sons desperately grab for each other’s throats. Thomas went on top of Charlie and punched him repeatedly while horrifically screaming “I HATE HIM! I HATE HIM!” and during that moment did I realize how alone and isolated Charlie felt. How he had to fend for himself all this time because I couldn't be there for him. “DON’T YOU DARE HIT YOUR BROTHER!” I screamed as I grabbed at his shoulders and tried to pull off Charlie. Finally, Simon managed to get Thomas of Charlie. Charlie stood up and cried in pain and started to hyperventilate. I held him down and desperately tried to soothe him and calm him down.

Thomas: I sat on the cold dark bathroom. Jackie had gone home after Charlie and I had settled down. I felt so humiliated after she saw me like that. I had no idea what she would think of me now. The door of the bath room opened up slowly. It was mum. She looked worn out and weary. She sat down next to me and I leaned onto her and cried. She stroked my hair slowly consoling me. I had no idea how long her and I had sat there with her but it felt like time has stopped as I poured out all my emotions onto the comfort of her shoulder.