The Broad City comedian and Disaster Artist actor go dark in this addiction drama for Netflix.
There is a long tradition of comedians and comedy-focused actors deciding to prove the breadth of their skills as performers by taking on darker projects. Actors who are best known for making us laugh, like Mo’Nique, Steve Carell, Sarah Silverman, and Jonah Hill, have frequently surprised us by tackling dramatic roles and earning critical acclaim — and in some cases, even Oscar nominations — for their performances. One of the best and most recent of the bunch is The Skeleton Twins, the 2014 drama (with a funny streak, albeit a pitch-black one) that starred SNL alumni Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader as estranged and incredibly troubled siblings dealing with childhood trauma, adult disappointment, and attempted suicide.
A similar vibe to The Skeleton Twins can be gleaned from the recently released trailer for 6 Balloons. The film stars Broad City’s Abbi Jacobson as a young woman struggling with the relapse of her heroin-addicted brother, played by The Disaster Artist’s Dave Franco. Over the course of one harrowing night, Katie (Jacobson) drives Seth (Franco) around Los Angeles in search of a detox center, accompanied by Seth’s toddler daughter. The trailer begins with some of Jacobson’s trademark sarcasm and a couple of warm moments between her and Franco, who flashes his trademark toothy grin. But events take a pretty disturbing downward spiral from there.
Based on the admittedly small sample size of the film’s trailer, I have to say I’m really impressed with what I’ve seen from Jacobson and Franco. The scene in the middle of the trailer, in which Katie asks Seth to lift up his sleeve and the mood abruptly shifts from quirky indie to intense drama, is incredibly potent thanks to the subtle change in Franco’s eyes; you can see the hurt over Katie’s mistrust of him and the unwillingness to tell her the truth seeping into his gaze. Jacobson has an air of incredible likability in everything she does, and that’s true here too. Watching her struggle to take care of her brother and his own child simultaneously promises to be a heartbreaking ride.
Written and directed by Marja-Lewis Ryan, 6 Balloons is based on the experiences that Ryan’s best friend and the film’s producer, Samantha Houseman, had with her own heroin-addicted brother. Clearly, the horror of addiction and watching a loved one wrestle with it is coming from a very real place here, which should only add to the film’s impact.
We don’t have very long to wait to find out if 6 Balloons delivers on what the trailer promises: the film, which debuted on March 12 at SXSW, is being released via Netflix on April 6. I’m not usually drawn to films to dark, but based on the people involved, I have really high hopes for this one.