7.2/10
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27 user 37 critic

The Keys to the House (2004)

Le chiavi di casa (original title)
Meeting his handicapped son for the first time, a young father attempts to forge a relationship with the teenager.

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Writers:

(story and screenplay), (story and screenplay) | 2 more credits »

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13 wins & 18 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Nicole
Andrea Rossi ...
Paolo
Alla Faerovich ...
Nadine
...
Alberto
Manuel Katzy ...
Taxi driver
Michael Weiss ...
Andreas
Ingrid Appenroth ...
Hospital warden
Dimitri Süsin ...
Boy watching TV
Thorsten Schwarz ...
Male nurse
Eric Neumann ...
Playground boy
Dirk Zippa ...
Young man on wheelchair
Barbara Koster-Chari ...
Nurse
Anita Bardeleben ...
Doctor
Ralf Schlesener ...
Newspaper seller
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Storyline

"Prepare yourself for suffering if you intend to be close to him." So speaks the mother of a young woman with severe disabilities, speaking to Gianni, the father of 16-year-old Paolo, himself developmentally disabled. Gianni abandoned the boy at birth, when the child's mother died, and Paulo's aunt and uncle have raised him. They have contacted Gianni and asked him to take Paulo to Berlin for a battery of medical tests. Images of people walking, running, skating, and dancing dot the screen as Gianni and Paulo get to know each other. Over a few days, Gianni tries to sort out his obligations and his desires. Will he accept his role as father to this engaging, mercurial, disabled youth? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »
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Details

Official Sites:

Country:

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Language:

| | |

Release Date:

10 September 2004 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

The Keys to the House  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$726,410 (Italy) (10 September 2004)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This is Charlotte Rampling's first film in Italian. Although she has made several other Italian films, she has always been dubbed beforehand, so this is the first occasion when Italians could actually hear her real voice. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Holiday (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

Deus Do Fogo E Da Justiça
Written by Lima / Almeida
Performed by Virginia Rodrigues
Courtesy of Warner / Chappel LTDA 2000
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User Reviews

 
Authenticity and tenderness
27 March 2006 | by (Vancouver, B.C.) – See all my reviews

Raising children under normal circumstances requires patience, consistency, and lots of love. Raising a child with special needs requires even more of those attributes plus an infinite capacity to endure the pain of seeing your child suffer. Winner of the Best Picture Award at the 2004 Venice Film Festival, Keys to the House explores the path of a young father who abandoned his disabled son fifteen years ago and now seeks to redeem their relationship without fully comprehending what is expected of him. Loosely based on Giuseppe Pontiggia's 2000 novel Born Twice, Keys to the House is the latest film by Italian director Gianni Amelio (L'America, Stolen Children) who is known for his deeply humane portraits of conflicting relationships between generations.

Gianni (Kim Rossi Stuart), an appliance worker in his mid-thirties, lives with his wife and young son in Milan, Italy. Fifteen years ago, he fathered a handicapped boy named Paolo (Andrea Rossi) with a teenage girlfriend who died during childbirth. At the request of the boy's uncle (Pierfrancesco Favino) who raised Paolo, Gianni meets his son for the first time en route to a Berlin hospital where the boy is scheduled to undergo a new round of testing at a hospital for handicapped children. Paolo, now a teenager, has physical and mental challenges resulting from childbirth trauma and walks with the aid of a cane. The father-son reunion is fraught with difficulties and many awkward moments. In spite of his difficulties, Paolo is bright, fun loving, and full of charm but has mood swings and erratic mental patterns. Gianni is hesitant at first, uncertain how to react to his unpredictable behavior and stumbles when trying to help him dress or assist him in going to the bathroom.

Paolo, though trusting, views Gianni with some embarrassment and asks him to leave during some invasive hospital testing. At the hospital, Gianni meets another parent (Charlotte Rampling as Nicole) whose daughter Nadine (Alla Faerovich) is severely handicapped with Cerebral Palsy. Her empathy and wisdom help him come to terms with the guilt he feels for having abandoned his son and increases his awareness of the difficulties involved in raising a handicapped child. When the hospital therapists push Paolo to the point of exhaustion with their exacting regimen, Gianni instinctively removes him and takes him on a road trip to Norway in hopes of meeting a young girl Paolo knows only through an exchange of photos. On the journey back, Gianni comes face to face with the true requirements of his commitment to Paolo and the result is deeply moving.

Keys to the House is an involving drama about the difficulties involved in taking responsibility for past mistakes and developing the inner strength to cope with the results. The acting is uniformly outstanding, especially that of Andrea Rossi, a young Italian actor with Muscular Dystrophy, who brings Paolo fully to life. Though some elements of the plot are puzzling, Keys to the House is not about plot but about feelings and relationships. It is a courageous film that sparkles with authenticity and tenderness. It avoids easy consolations and trite solutions, challenging us to confront our limitations, particularly our inability to always be the person our children need us to be. While Keys to the House may not be Amelio's best film, it is his most emotionally compelling and fully establishes him as being in the very front rank of contemporary directors.


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