Italy, 2001
Original title:: La stanza del figlio
Director, main writer:: Nanni Moretti
Winner of the Palme d'Or at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival.

The psychoanalyst Giovanni leads a peaceful family life with his wife Paola and their two children. This peace is somewhat disrupted when the son, Andrea, is suspected of stealing a fossil, an ammonite, from school, but the parents choose to believe him when he assures them of his innocence. The father, however, still has a feeling something is different about his son and is eager to spend some extra time with him, although his duties as an analyst interrupt his plan to take his son jogging on a Sunday. Andrea goes scuba diving with his friends instead, as scheduled. Then disaster strikes.

From here on, The Son's Room is a touching depiction of a family in crisis. Giovanni has to figure out whether he can be of any help to others as an analyst whilst going through his own problems and communication in the family falls apart.

There are some thematic threads that I am rather surprised not to see followed through to the end of the movie, but I won't name them, as I am trying to avoid spoilers here. Reading about Moretti, I see that he has been referred to as a European Woody Allen, but this movie is quite un-Allen-like in its scope. Moretti is also known for using his movies to promote his political opinions, but this is not a political movie, it revolves around one single family and their painful experience.

Generally, I am slightly skeptical of writer-director-actors - except the aforementioned Allen, as I am a great fan. But Moretti does a good job at it, although I wouldn't say he is the strongest actor in the cast. Laura Morante portrays the mourning mother beautifully with despair and credible irrationality. I was also impressed by the young Jasmine Trinca, who plays the sister Irene.

The movie makes good use of music, and not in an Ally McBeal-let's-illustrate-every-scene-with-an-obvious-classic-soul-hit way. I was especially moved by Brian Eno's "By This River" (from "Before And After Science", 1978) - the only English-language song in the movie, that can be heard twice.

Do see this movie, but not if you're mostly in the mood for popcorn, action and a good giggle (like the teenage girls sitting behind me at the cinema).

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