A patient, sensitively-drawn portrait of grief and loss in a family, though this Cannes Palme d’Or winner doesn’t seem to truly hit right in the gut.
Cast: Nanni Moretti, Laura Morante, Jasmine Trinca
Plot: A psychoanalyst and his family go through profound emotional trauma when their son dies in a scuba-diving accident.
Awards: Won Palme d’Or & FIPRESCI Prize (Cannes)
Subject Matter: Moderate – Tragedy; Grief
Narrative Style: Straightforward
Pace: Slightly Slow
Audience Type: Slightly Arthouse
Believe it or not, this is my first time seeing a Nanni Moretti film, as it popped into my radar on MUBI.
The Son’s Room happens to also be his most highly-awarded picture, winning the Cannes Palme d’Or in a year with much more accomplished competition titles like David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive, Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s Millennium Mambo and Michael Haneke’s The Piano Teacher.
The Son’s Room isn’t very memorable and is a tad underwhelming, though its portrait of grief and loss in a family context remains sensitively-drawn. Perhaps that is what makes it at least moderately compelling to watch, even if the film doesn’t seem to truly hit right in the gut.
Moretti has had a better reputation for directing and starring in comedies than tearjerkers like this, so the film could have been a breath of fresh air at the time.
“But today it’s different. Today, I just want to cry.”
After a tragic scuba diving accident leaves Giovanni (Moretti) and Paola (Laura Morante in the film’s most effective performance) with one less child, the family must find a way to move on.
Giovanni is a professional psychoanalyst who advises on his patients’ problems, but with the tables now turned so to speak, he is at a loss navigating the treacherous, potentially self-destructive, waters of deep anguish and sorrow.
The title of the film appears to be a misnomer—there’s nothing significant in the son’s room, nor is it a site for solace or rejuvenation.
Instead, Moretti’s film asks us to look beyond the literal and metaphorical walls, that any coming to terms with the death of a loved one must be sought elsewhere, somewhere… anywhere but home.