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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

The Son's Room


Starring: Nanni Moretti, Laura Morante, Jasmine Trinca, Silvio Orlando, Claudio Santamaria and Stefano Accorsi
Distributor: StudioCanal


Certificate: 15
Release Date: 23 November 2020

In world cinema there has to be room for the individualist. Light weight gear and super sensitive digital cameras can open the psyche and eschewing traditional vocabulary (“the windows of the soul”) show us the subtle variants and appreciation of tears that can flow in the middle of a shot. Internal acting is all the more prized for its immersive intimacy. Award-winning writer/director Nanni Moretti makes it look easy. A super trick if there ever was one.

Studiocanal has released two of Moretti's films on Blu-ray and it's advisable to add both to your movie collection. While each film stands on its own, the multiplex experience of viewing the same filmmaker and troupe in two vastly different worlds is cause to pause.  No easy answers for the fantasist or the realist.  Whatever route we pick, we will still be playing it as it lays.

Nanni Moretti’s work is the peak of individualist cinema. In Aprile he is a filmmaker who can’t decide what to shoot. The politics of Italy volleying from Left to Right so distract him, the thought of making a musical about a pastry chef and his dancing staff is stillborn throughout the movie. It’s frustrating. The tiniest whim can make him send the whole shooting crew to pack up and go home. We know he must be good, his producers keep backing him, throughout the whole film he never turns a finger to get paid and follows the birth of his son without worry of where the next lira will come from. He’s clearly spoiled and self preoccupied. A lot of filmmakers should have it so good. This is calculation on auteur Moretti’s part. He’s playing with us. His domestic scenes, hospital pacing, collaging newspapers into wall-to-wall-carpets for inspiration which are then tossed away, flittering in production meetings all grate and are meant to. This is Moretti’s treadmill of mangué which is a fantasy pluperfect for the misunderstood “artist” who doesn’t even understand himself.

Moretti’s troupe is close to home. His wife is his wife. Other central players wear different hats.  One imagines Moretti “plays” with his actors much the way he explores what to do and not to do in Aprile.  This is an important distinction because The Son’s Room is the same troupe in an entirely different narrative framework. Here, he is a psychoanalyst, also with a son and a daughter, devastated when his now teenage son, Andrea, dies in a swimming accident. The crushing grief is more than the family can cope with. The unavoidableness of death becomes non-negotiable and the family tears apart at the seams. If ever analysis leads to paralysis, we see it here. No room for whimsy. Even politics is brushed aside by existential concreteness. It’s as if Moretti is warning us that the only true philosophy is existential. All others are tag-alongs for impressing ourselves and others with theatrically decorous word games.

By the way in Aprile we get a peek at the musical about the pastry chef and his dancing waitresses and I want to tell you, it’s good.  We could have seen more. Moretti is showing us he can “do it” but at the same time has a lot more on his mind.


John Huff

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