Sunday 11 December 2022

The Son's Room [2001]

 Loss and grief, as subjects, can be both oppressive and liberating, and different directors, therefore, have tackled them in remarkably diverse ways. Nanni Moretti, in his Palm d’Or winning film The Son’s Room – which transformed his position from a maker of cult, idiosyncratic movies to more mainstream recognition – covered these with nuance, simplicity, and a delicate mix of levity and solemnity, while steadfastly side-stepping sentimentality. The film, interestingly, can be roughly broken into two very tonally divergent halves. It commenced with a charmingly joyous family – Giovanni (Moretti), a well-off psychotherapist, is happily married to the loving and lovely Paola (Laura Morante), and has two loving and lively teenage kids, son Andrea (Giuseppe Sanfelice) and daughter Irene (Jasmine Trinca). The easy-going camaraderie that they share is immediately evidenced when we see the parents supporting Andrea – and even joking about it – upon his suspension for allegedly stealing a fossil from the school’s chemistry lab, and that’s accompanied by vignettes of Giovanni’s deadpan counselling of his neurotic patients. Their perfectly balanced world, however, collapses when a devastating tragedy strikes, and everything starts going recklessly haywire – Giovanni becomes beset with severe guilt, his calm deneanour starts crumbling, and he starts becoming disinterested in his job; the vivacious Paola becomes crushed and distant by grief; and the spunky Irene becomes angry and helpless. The disintegration of this perfect family, fortunately, gets a sliver of hope when they become aware of a girl (Sofia Vigliar) with whom Andrea had begun a platonic friendship. Moretti deftly donned dual hats – like he’s done throughout his filmography – in this superbly acted drama where a therapist and his family, ironically, end up in a bad need for therapy themselves.

Director: Nanni Moretti

Genre: Drama/Family Drama

Language: Italian

Country: Italy

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