the son's room(2001)
[la stanza del figlio]
director: nanni moretti
nanni moretti, laura morante, jasmine trinca

. Perhaps it was all the lost lives on September 11th that suddenly made the family drama, at least momentarily, all the more poignant. Thereís no other way to explain the rapturous critical response to In The Bedroom, a film that, a year ago, would probably have been ignored.

Nanni Morettiís The Sonís Room is another film about loss, albeit one whose virtues are altogether more subtle, and which manages to get to its finale -- acceptance and resignation -- without a fraction of In The Bedroomís fireworks. 

Nanni Moretti, the filmís director, plays Giovanni, a therapist in a coastal Italian city with two attractive, unusually levelheaded teenage children. The first of this filmís many marvels is that, through some miracle of casting, they actually do look like a family, the children clearly taking after Paola, his lovely wife, played by Laura Morante. Hollywood families, composed of stars, starlets, and hunks-of-the-moment, so rarely look like they share anything but a powerful agent.

Giovanni and Paolaís pleasant but tentative world is blown to pieces when their son dies in a diving accident. Moretti is unsparing at the moment of loss, blandly showing the funeral preparations, the welding of the metal coffin liner over the boyís body, and close-ups of the screws driving the lid shut. 

Paola suffers silently, their daughter (Jasmine Trinca) discovers hidden rage, but Giovanni utterly self-destructs, suddenly unable to bear the neurotic babble of his patients, and starts to bring down his family with him. He becomes obsessed with the day of his sonís death, and fantasizes that he could have saved him, blaming a terminally ill patient who called him away that morning. 

As their despair turns poisonous, they discover that their son had a secret girlfriend, and the wife tries to contact her, aching and desperate for some trace of her son. The girl turns out to be utterly, terribly ordinary, but manages to bring them out of their spiral with a wonderfully simple conclusion.