It wouldn't be nothing without a woman or a girl.

The effects of a female influence are showcased through the resilient main characters of Maggie Mollison, mother of Charlie and Thomas, and Jackie Masters, Thomas’ girlfriend. Their choices and actions impact how the other characters surrounding them develop, and offer guidance, compassion and acceptance through the hardships that come with raising an autistic child.

Maggie Mollison presents herself as a strong-willed, no-nonsense woman who is very protective of her family and has no problem with asserting her independence. Despite being heavily pregnant and confined to bed rest, her determination to “…look after the house and boys” is adamant. As most domestic wives, especially in a household of males, Maggie is in charge of keeping everything in order and chaos at bay. Throughout her pregnancy, she barks commands and reminders often:

“Simon, you’re going to be late for work!”

“Time for Charlie’s medicine, Thomas.”

“…the underwear goes on the inside, Simon.”

“Make sure to take those bins out.”

“Sprinklers go on in half an hour!”

"Simon, have you mowed the lawn?!"

Lack of such dictation when she’s admitted to hospital results in domestic mayhem. It’s evident that without Maggie, the boys are at a loss as to what to do, how to behave – they fought, became physically violent and reckless - because there was nobody to keep them in line. In her absence, the female influence of Jackie Masters steps in to direct the Mollison boys' emotional development.

Jackie is bold, confident and liked by all - catching the eye of the nervous, reserved wallflower character of Thomas during his first few days at his new school. The beginnings of their relationship is due to Jackie's confidence - she initiates conversation, asks him questions about himself and his life; showing an interest in him where he might feel invisible. Jackie "saves" Thomas during a lifesaver exercise in their swimming class - the scene depicts Jackie pulling Thomas towards the safe area of the pool. This is symbolic: Jackie is literally saving him, parallel to her kindness and consideration 'saving' him from himself and 'pulling' him away from his negative outlook on Charlie's condition. Even after run-ins with Charlie that would normally have made people uncomfortable, Jackie exhibits maturity by not only maintaining her friendship with Thomas but expressing an interest in Charlie as well. This displays her acceptance; not many people would jump at the opportunity to associate with Charlie or make an effort to learn sign language to communicate with him. Jackie also empathises with Thomas:

"It must be so hard on your parents."

"Everyone says that."

"It must be hard on you."

This shows her consideration and understanding of his situation - something Thomas mustn't feel like he receives often because he's overlooked due to Charlie's condition demanding extra attention. A symbolic scene of them walking home together portrays the trio on a wide path going towards the horizon, with the camera angle looking upwards, upbeat music in the background and Jackie leading the way - suggesting Jackie is going to guide Thomas and Charlie towards better, brighter things. The video below includes the dark humour Jackie found in the scene of Charlie putting one of her tampons in his mouth. Many people would repulse or become uncomfortable but Jackie laughs it off, showing her optimism and mirth towards situations like these.

Black Balloon | BEHIND THE SCENES | Gemma's Favourite Scene | Icon
The subtleties included in the roles Maggie Mollison and Jackie Masters play in The Black Balloon effect the gradual development of all the other characters in many different ways. They provide acceptance, guidance, love and support, which contribute to several of the cast changing for the better, making for a happy ending. Thus, the influence of women is integral and a major theme in the movie, The Black Balloon.


I based my reflection upon the three images below because I believe they showcase important parts of the film The Black Balloon that support my persuasive analysis. These snapshots were taken at points in the film where I felt the presence of a female influence was strongest. The first is of Maggie Mollison, bending down in effort to clean up Charlie's mess. You can see here clearly that Charlie is her first priority and she would overlook her own health to see to his needs, showcasing the maternal sacrifices that she makes because she loves him. The second is of Jackie Masters telling Thomas, "You have to stop wishing Charlie was normal. It's never gonna change." , after Charlie gets taunted and harassed at their school. This displays maturity beyond her years, an understanding that it would be futile to continue wishing Charlie was different. The final photo is of Thomas joining Charlie in the backyard, grunting and banging a wooden stick repetitively on the ground. Although he does this with the intent to annoy the neighbour, there is a more symbolic subtext - Thomas willingly mirroring Charlie's actions suggests he no longer feels contempt or chagrined by the fact that Charlie isn't and probably never will be normal. It displays his acceptance and newfound optimistic outlook regarding his brother's condition.