The Son's Room
The happiness of psychiatrist Giovanni and his wife Paola's family is shattered when their son Andrea dies in a diving accident.
Prosperous therapist Giovanni's roster of highly neurotic patients are a stark contrast to his own well-adjusted family, which consists of his beloved wife Paola and teenage kids Andrea and Irene. The family resides in a picturesque seaside town on Italy's eastern coast where they share a comfortable, book-filled apartment adjacent to his office. But the bourgeois comfort they enjoy is tragically upended when son Andrea dies in a diving accident on a sunny Sunday morning. Not dealing well with the profound grief that ensues, Giovanni loses interest in his patients, Paola withdraws, and daughter Irene rebels. Only when Arianna, a previously unknown young female friend of Andrea's, unexpectedly emerges does the family find closure and begin to understand that life must and can go on.
Well-known Italian filmmaker Nanni Moretti is terrific in the carefully nuanced role as Giovanni, a confident professional and devoted family man who learns he's as fragile and vulnerable as his own patients. Moretti's accomplishment is all the more noteworthy because he is also the film's director, co-writer and co-producer. Laura Morante is warm and touching as the wife, and Jasmine Trinca and Giuseppe Sanfelice as the kids are also top-notch. The natural demeanor of all four actors heightens the authenticity of this close-knit family in crisis. The Son's Room also serves up convincing performances in supporting roles, especially those of Giovanni's often desperate patients.
Moretti, known for less grim subject-matter, shows here his ability with melancholy, thoughtful drama. He also skillfully shifts the film's moods, drifting from mundane family happenings to the often droll behavior of his neurotic patients to an anguished study of grief and loss to welcome cathartic relief. But the critically acclaimed and similarly themed In the Bedroom covers much the same territory and, perhaps deservedly, has stolen all the thunder. Moretti's drama is sensitively and convincingly told but is runner-up in the current sweepstakes of films about middle-class grief spawned by loss of a good son.
The Son's Room, Italy's submission for the upcoming Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, is engaging entertainment for fans of serious arthouse films.