- The Son's Room (La Stanza del Figlio)
- Director: Nanni Moretti
- Year: 2001
In The Son's Room (known in Italy as La Stanza del Figlio), director Nanni Moretti took a step away from the diary-style of his 90s films (Caro Diario, Aprile) in order to use a more straightforward narrative to deal with the story of a family shaken by death. The result was a beautiful and moving piece of filmmaking that won the 2001 Palme d'Or at Cannes.
As well as writing and directing the film, Moretti plays the lead character, Giovanni, a psychiatrist working in the seaside town of Ancona. In the first half of the film we see him at home with his family where he deals with day-to-day crises like the possible theft of a fossil from his son's school. At work he calmly handles a variety of confused and neurotic patients (providing the opportunity for cameos from several well-known Italian actors including Stefano Accorsi). This exaggeratedly calm domesticity is shaken when he misses a planned jog with his son in order to pay an unscheduled visit to a patient. While he is away, his son goes diving with a group of friends and has a fatal accident.
In the second half of the film, Moretti follows the gradual collapse of the intricate relationships he has set up - between members of the family, between Giovanni and his patients - with an almost eerie sense of the humanity of the situation. At first the fractures between the characters are so subtle they're almost imperceptible, and only very gradually do they begin to pick up pace. The cast, which includes Laura Morante (Remember Me) and Jasmine Trinca (Romanzo Criminale, Il Caimano), do an excellent job of giving their characters life and the relationships between them are perfectly handled and convincing, moving naturally towards the ambiguous but hopeful conclusion.
What makes The Son's Room quite so special is its grasp of, and respect for, human nature. This kind of approach is something that seems to be peculiarly Italian, and it's hard to imagine a film like The Son's Room coming from anywhere other than Italy.
The Son's Room is available on DVD in both the UK and the USA. Neither version has much in the way of extras.