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The Son's Room


Year: 2001 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: Unknown 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: It is expected that this film is fully subtitled. 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  
An image from The Son's Room

Nanni Moretti is primarily regarded as the Woody Allen of Italian cinema, famous in his native Italy for comedies such as Aprile. However, in The Son’s Room, Moretti is able to transform himself from the clown of Italian cinema into the talented auteur that he is now recognised as today. This dramatic examination of grief won the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 2001, three Donatellos (Italian Oscars) and numerous international accolades.

Giovanni (Nanni Moretti) is a well-respected psychoanalyst in a small Northern Italian town, with a happy family. The relaxed family atmosphere is established early in the film via their dealing of an incident involving their son Andrea (Giuseppe Sanfelice) being accused of theft, and is subsequently shattered as Andrea is killed in a scuba diving accident. The emotional harm upon the family is profound, and it is harrowing to witness the disintegration of this family set-up.

Prior to the accident, Giovanni remains detached from his patients’ problems, which juxtaposes his behaviour following his son’s death. Giovanni’s objectivity begins to escape him, resulting in him bursting into tears as a patient speaks of her husband and children. Giovanni begins to dwell upon missed opportunities with his son, and decides to leave his practice. However, amidst the sadness comes a secret from Andrea’s life that offers the troubled family a way to healthily express grief and recover from their loss.

Moretti’s directorial style is impeccable. As director, he remains detached and refrains from the continual emotional saturation that can be found in many an American drama. As star, he excels as the distraught father. The choppy editing style of Esmeralda Calabria keeps the film to under a hundred minutes in length, and refuses to dwell needlessly upon the apparent anguish of Andrea’s family.

Whereas American cinema tends to sensationalise the grief that accompanies mourning, The Son’s Room successfully reflects upon the result of loss and the feelings that accompany tragedy. The mood is successfully emphasised by Nicola Piovani’s soundtrack, which subtlety compliments the action without dominating. At points within the film, Moretti even manages to brighten the mood of the film by showing how the dead are never forgotten amongst the grief and sorrow. The Son’s Room is well-paced considering the subject matter, and is a must-see for sentimental types.

James Cotton

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Screenings of this film:

2006/2007 Autumn Term (35mm)