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The Son's Room (2001)

La stanza del figlio

Starring:

Giuseppe Sanfelice

Jasmine Trinca

Laura Morante

Marcello Bernacchini

Nanni Moretti

Paolo De Vita

Sofia Vigliar

Directed by:

Nanni Moretti

Rating: 6/10

Running Time: 99 minutes

US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 15

On DVD

Country: France, Italy

Look at the film poster above, there are at least three smiles and what looks like a man telling a joke. Seems like a nice enough film about a family outing, right? It’s a piece of advertising that could never prepare you for the wall of sadness, despair and floods of tears that you will be subjected to throughout The Son’s Room.

The Sermonti family are made up of parents Giovanni (Moretti), the father and successful but ineffectual psychoanalyst, and Paola (Morante), the caring mother, and two well-behaved children, Andrea (Sanfelice) and Irene (Trinca). One day, Andrea goes diving with friends and has an accident resulting in his death. The film then explores the fall out of this most unexpected of deaths on a once happy family.

First of all, this is a technically excellent exploration of the grieving process of a tight-knit family (one that actually likes to spend time with each other). Many different aspects of the surprise death in the family – guilt, shock and breaking relationships – are touched upon in profoundly moving ways. This is done in a completely unmelodramatic and scarily realistic fashion by three actors and actresses getting disturbingly into their roles. The themes of mortality and the point of living that Nanni Moretti  deals with certainly are powerful.

The thing about film is it’s usually an experience to enjoy and get into and although you can admire how well The Son’s Room is done and how realistic it might be, it’s a horrible movie to sit through, nevermind more than once. Usually, I like to elevate myself above the usual Adam Sandler-loving Joe Public and enjoy my films foreign and depressing but this was a step further than I like to go and I feel it’s a film that will primarily appeal to high-brow movie institutions like Cannes but not to many other people.

It's Got: Beautiful acting, poignant and slight direction, the exploration of some big themes

It Needs: To be watched in the right mood, not after a bereavement and with a box of tissues

DVD Extras Only a trailer unless you get the French/Italian version DVD Extras Rating: 1/10

Alternatives:

Imaginary Heroes, Io non ho paura, Maborosi

Summary

Undoubtedly, a technically excellent and superbly acted tale of grief but, as a movie to sit down and enjoy, it’s probably more depressing than sitting in your garage, crying tears of mascara whilst the air around you fills up with petrol fumes and the warblings of a Celine Dion powerballad.

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