Reviewed by: Richard Schmitz
Starring: Laura Morante, Nanni Moretti, Giuseppe Sanfelice, Claudi Della Seta, Stefano Accorsi | Directed by: Nanni Moretti | Produced by: Nanni Moretti, Angelo Barbagallo | Written by: Nanni Moretti, Linda Ferri, Heidrun Schleef | Distributor: Miramax Films
One Sunday morning Giovanni, a well-respected psychoanalyst in a pleasant Northern Italian city, cancels a run with his athletic teenage son in order to make a house call to a patient. When he returns home he discovers his son has died in a diving accident.
The Son’s Room is a brilliant drama about how he, his wife and teenage daughter work their way through the grieving process. The genius of the film is, 1) it never becomes sappy or maudlin, 2) its respectful of its characters, and 3) its strength in delivering a believable, life-affirming conclusion. The film even has its humorous moments.
The Son’s Room, which won the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival, is in Italian with English subtitles, but anyone who is a parent or teenage son or daughter will be able to read this film’s emotional depth with only an occasional glimpse at the subtitles. With the family’s secure, loving relationship established in the first part of the film, viewers follow the way in which each of the family members deal with pain and loss.
Giovanni, for example, sees his patients in a new way. Paola, his wife (played by Laura Morante) pursues contact with the girl his son had met at summer camp, who only became known when a love letter arrived after the fatal accident. Teenage daughter Irene (Jasmine Trinca) flows back into her high school routine only to have her emotions explode while playing a high school basketball game.
While there is no Christian content in this film, the message of strength-in-family is one that allows this film to receive a good rating. There is one scene of nudity (brief, and between husband and wife) and some graphic sexual descriptions from a patient of Giovanni’s (mentioning sexual desires toward those other then his wife, masturbation, oral sex, prostitution, etc.). Neither are gratuitous in any way. Some parents may wish to bring their teenagers: they’ve seen and heard far worse, and the hours of good conversation that can come from this film may be well worth it.
As an aside, it’s too bad more believing Christian families don’t seek out these kind of “art house” films instead of settling for the usual vulgar timewasters at the cineplex.
Stars Nanni Moretti, who co-wrote and co-directed. Andrea, the son, is played by Guiseppe Sanfelice.