Let’s call her the spirit of the place. Paris apartments are cluttered, Parisian lives are messy, the city is shown so congested you can smell the exhaust fumes. To cope, Hou himself has adapted a looser, more lyrical style—using window reflections, some of which seem digitally sweetened, and shallow focus to layer and otherwise complicate the image. A movie that encourages the spectator to rummage, Flight of the Red Balloon is contemplative but never static, and punctuated by passages of pure cinema. A medley of racing shadows turns out to be cast by a merry-go-round. A long consideration of the setting sun as reflected on a train window that frames the onrushing landscape yields a sudden flood of light. There’s a relaxed interest in backstage technique—the yet-to-be-erased techie visible in Song’s film, a puppeteer’s hidden “dance” in Suzanne’s performance, the use of the end credits as a coda to the movie.