The Son's Room

(Nanni Moretti, Italy, 2001)


Alongside such distinguished dramas as Atom Egoyan’s The Sweet Hereafter (1998) and Pedro Almodovar’s All About My Mother (1999), Nanni Moretti’s The Son’s Room is another film that tackles the difficult subject of a child’s tragic death and its consequent devastating effects on remaining family members.


Moretti – after twenty years of unusual, hybrid work – raised suspicion when he chose this as his first foray into mainstream drama. Was it a bid for cultural respectability?


Happily, the film rises far above such kneejerk reactions. Although a death is at its centre, grieving – and the difficult matter of getting beyond grieving – is its true subject. Moretti’s master stroke is to make the family’s father (played by the director) a psychotherapist. It is in the interactions – some hilarious, some shocking – between Moretti and his patients that we grasp the film’s complex, empathetic understanding of human behaviour.


After his brush with mortality, the therapist finds that he can no longer dispense advice, no longer make love, no longer even sing to himself in mindless joy.


The Son’s Room offers a moving study of how this man and those around him slowly revitalise themselves and return to the Eden of everyday life.


MORE Moretti: Caro diario

© Adrian Martin April 2003

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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