The Son's Room Review

Working in Northern Italy as a private psychotherapist, Giovanni (writer/director Nanni Moretti) finds refuge from the daily stress of his job in the stability provided by his family. With both his children, Andrea and Irene, in their teens, life is not always simple but all differences are smoothed over when they assemble around the sacrosanct kitchen table. Suddenly, one Sunday morning, their son Andrea (Giuseppe Sanfelice) dies in a scuba diving accident and all of their lives come to a standstill… The family gradually start to try to make sense out of the gaping hole that their son has now left in their lives.

Death is never an easy topic to deal with on the silver screen – aside from it being one of the final societal taboos, it seems to have been difficult for the film world to explore much beyond the strong emotional reaction felt by those left behind… Moretti however seems to avoid focussing too much on these emotions and gives us a film that shines with its light touch but also from its emotional depth – although there’s a great deal of Moretti’s trademark brand of surrealist humour, he keeps a perfect balance between this and the realism needed for the characters to develop fully. The complexity of self-direction has never seemed to be a problem for Moretti given the performances he’s given in all of his films and his direction of the rest of the cast is almost flawless be it for comical or tragic effect.

Moretti’s previous films tended to keep to more light hearted subjects (which had some lazy critics labelling him as the Italian Woody Allen) but the transition here is absolutely staggering – far from the good-but-not-great films produced by the bespectacled New Yorker, Moretti manages to produce a great film on his first attempt and rightly received the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 2001. Although hardly an easy film to watch, it’s a film that manages to be true to its subject and is a very rewarding film even after multiple viewings.

The DVD:

The image:The aspect ratio of 1.66:1 is respected and the film also gets an anamorphic transfer (this means there’ll be black bars on the side of the image). The print is in a pretty good state although there’s quite a lot of spots and other blemishes which is slightly surprising for such a recent film. The colours are very vibrant (especially the reds) and stick closely to the film's original colour scheme. Grain is at times visible but doesn’t really become too distracting… Overall a good transfer.

The sound

:We get a basic stereo mix of the Italian soundtrack – given that this is an intimate movie, stereo is adequate enough. The voices and music are well mixed together and come through nice and clearly…

The subtitles:These are not burnt-in (hooray!) but machine generated and can be turned off from the menu or via the remote control… The text size is perfect and I didn’t detect any major spelling or grammar mistakes. At some times, the subs don’t subtitle everything that’s being said (but that’s true of most subs anyway) but generally they keep up with the dialogue and miss little out.

The menus:Very basic of the silent and still variety…

The extras

:All we get is a US trailer for the film which of course avoids any Italian dialogue whatsover… Adequately transferred in fullscreen this is a pretty paltry extra.

Conclusions:Given the extras laden releases that this film has been given in Italy and in France, it’s a shame Momentum has not licensed any of them - at least some footage from Cannes would have been appreciated… Still the film is well worth purchasing with or without extras and will provide you with one of the best films of 2001.

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