St. Petersburg Times: Weekend

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Indie Flicks

By PHILIP BOOTH, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 28, 2002

Family tragedy, Italian style

The Son's Room (Not rated) (99 minutes) (Italian with English subtitles) -- Veteran Italian filmmaker Nanni Moretti stars as a laid-back therapist and devoted husband and father in this prize-winning drama about one family's response to a sudden, devastating tragedy. It's a moving piece of work that's ultimately more optimistic than In the Bedroom, a similarly themed American film.

Moretti's story, rather conventional and overly cheery at first, gains emotional gravity and resonance as it goes along, carefully avoiding melodrama. Anyone who has experienced the sudden loss of a loved one will recognize the overwhelming anguish and confusion expressed by the major characters here. Denial turns into anger, despair and, eventually, in the most fortunate cases, a kind of reluctant acceptance.

The relationships among family members Giovanni (Moretti), his wife Paola (Laura Morante), sports-minded daughter Irene (Jasmine Trinca) and relatively passive son Andrea (Giuseppe Sanfelice) are at the center of the film.

Moretti also weaves in a series of meetings between Giovanni and his patients. Some provide comic relief, some offer bittersweet commentary on the psychiatrist's own woes. Toward the end, Brian Eno's melancholy ballad By This River becomes a major component. B+

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