Son’s Room, The (2001)

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.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Review #2,482

Dir. Nanni Moretti
2001 | Italy | Drama | 100 min | 1.85:1 | Italian
NC16 (passed clean) for language and some sexuality

Cast: Nanni Moretti, Laura Morante, Jasmine Trinca
A psychoanalyst and his family go through profound emotional trauma when their son dies in a scuba-diving accident.
Won Palme d’Or & FIPRESCI Prize (Cannes)
Distributor: Studiocanal

Accessibility Index
Subject Matter: Moderate – Tragedy; Grief
Narrative Style: Straightforward
Pace: Slightly Slow
Audience Type: Slightly Arthouse

Viewed: MUBI
Spoilers: No

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. 

Grade: B



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