Giovanni is a successful psychoanalyst who has to put up with the seemingly endless string of trivial details his patients ramble on about. Yet his family provides a loving and steadfast foundation for his life that can even survive a problem like their son, Andrea, being accused of stealing a rare fossil in school. That foundation is profoundly rocked when Andrea dies in a scuba diving accident. Although the usual arrangements run smoothly, the emotional harm is profound. Giovanni begins to obsessively dwell on the missed chances he had with his son that might have saved his life, even blaming his patients. In addition, his wife is inconsolable and his daughter is becoming anti social in their loss. In the midst of this turmoil, a secret of their son's life is revealed that provides healing in a way they never anticipated.Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (email@example.com)
The Latin lines that crop up are from Lucretius' De rerum natura. The full passage reads as follows: "Haec sic pernosces parva perductus opella; namque alid ex alio clarescet nec tibi caeca nox iter eripiet, quin ultima naturai pervideas: ita res accendent lumina rebus. (Lucretius, De Rerum Natura I, 1114-1117) An (old-fashioned) English translation: "These points, if thou wilt ponder, Then, with but paltry trouble led along... For one thing after other will grow clear, Nor shall the blind night rob thee of the road, To hinder thy gaze on Nature's Farthest-forth. Thus things for things shall kindle torches new." See more »
I wouldn't know Nanni Moretti from Adam, but I gather that he is the maker of Neapolitan Woody Allenish movies--lightly self-flogging narcissism-fests. So what possessed him to put twinkly music on the soundtrack (evocative at once of TERMS OF ENDEARMENT and Neil Simon movies of yesteryear) and deck out his alter ego in a procession of glum, castrato-evoking sweaters that fairly squeak, "Bourgie, bourgie, bourgie, bourgie..."? Moretti plays a shrink, a conscientious guy who does nothing but listen objectively to a lot of well-to-do people's problems. Or non-problems. Then, just as in IN THE BEDROOM, the Unthinkable strikes, and Moretti is forced out of his shell of objectivity and doing-for-others. Or so the setup of the movie would lead you to think.
A bottled-up, icy person learning to feel, feel, feel? We've been there in Middlebrow Tearjerker-Land a million times, from ORDINARY PEOPLE to THE ACCIDENTAL TOURIST. And, perhaps seeing the crossover success of tearjerker Roberto Benigni, Moretti wants to get that ticket punched. Fine and dandy--and the smoothness of the early sequences, evocative of the tranquil languor of a gated "security community's" comfort zone, seem to be leading us up to that point when the buttoned-up bourgeois lets go, cries, learns how Get in Touch with His Whatever. But...the movie never gets there. It peters out, in fact, with an ending so unresolving of any of the movie's issues I felt myself jolted when the end titles came up.
Moretti seems to want to resist the hugs-and-lessons finale that seems to be required by this genre. But he has put nothing satisfying in its place. And sad to say, seen next to IN THE BEDROOM, every one of the details of grief in SON'S ROOM looks hysterical, actorish, false. (People who have just suffered a cataclysmic loss do not cry their lungs out all the time; they do, as in BEDROOM, sit and stare unblinkingly at Craig Osborn's jokes, and do their laundry more often.) One can see why Miramax gave this movie the quiet brushoff; one cannot see why Cannes Jury President Liv Ullmann pushed this movie through to a Palme d'Or. Was she unable to see that this watery pablum is, in point of fact, not like her richly observed movies at all?
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