Son’s Room (2001)

Tender, sensitive and touching, without ever descending to conventional sentimentality and unbearable bathos, as could have been the case, Nanni Moretti’s “The Son’s Room,” depicts in detail the impact of a devastating loss on the members of an entire family, struggling to come to terms with it—and perhaps moving on with their new lives.

The father, Giovanni (Nanni Moretti), is a professional psychiatrist with a successful practice in a small community by the ocean. Giovanni has a warm and loving bond with his wife Paola (the bautiful actress Laura Morante), and they two teenage kids, Andrea (Giuseppe Sanfelice) and Irene (Jasmine Trinca).

But the family’s calm balance and upper-middle class existence are dramatically shattered when Andrea is unexpectedly killed in an accident.

Giovanni finds it impossible to continue with his work, and blames himself for the death, since he was planning to go jogging with Andrea that morning; instead, he opted to take an emergency call from a client.

In a gender reversal, Paola and Irene try to keep their emotions in check, but gradually, both women find it more and more impossible, sinking further into anger and incocolable grief.

Things change with the  appearance of an outsider—an unexpected visitor–who forces the family to confront their feelings head-on about Andrea. The visitor is Arianna (Sofia Vigliar), a nice girl who had a brief romance with Andrea the year before.  She has decided to pay him a surprise visit, unaware of his recent death.

In addition to starring, Moretti directed and co-penned the script.  This is a point of departure, who is better known for his comedies and satires (“Dear Diary”).

“The Son’s Room” was the surprise winner of the top prize, the Palme d’Or, of the Cannes Film Fest in a vintage year that had much better films.  The movie is sporadically affecting, but it’s too simple, and lacking rich subtext, to qualify as a geuine family tragedy.

In the U.S., the movie didn’t make much of an impression, despite decent reviews.  It could be that it suffered from inevitable comparisons to the similarly-themed, far superior indie drama, “In the Bedroom,” which was Oscar-nominated and also released by Miramaz, and boasted Oscar-caliber performances from Sissy Spacek and Tom Wilkinson as the grieving parents.


Running time: 87 Minutes.

Directed by Nanni Moretti

Script: Nanni Moretti, Linda Ferri, Heidrun Schleef.

Released in the U.S. February 8, 2002.

DVD: October 8, 2002