Good Grief

In The Son's Room, a family falls apart and pulls together

Comfort the afflicted: Laura Morante and Giuseppe Sanfelice share a tender moment before tragedy strikes in The Son's Room.
Comfort the afflicted: Laura Morante and Giuseppe Sanfelice share a tender moment before tragedy strikes in The Son's Room.

Nanni Moretti's meditation on a family's trauma in the wake of a teen-age boy's death in a scuba-diving accident is both spare and unsentimental, and that may surprise those benighted Americans who think all Italians are one part tantrum and one part tomato sauce. Best known here for the 1994 delight Caro Diario, Moretti now explores the natural intimacy of comedy and tragedy as the stricken family--a formerly tranquil psychiatrist (played by Moretti himself), his distraught wife (beautiful Laura Morante) and their energetic daughter (Jasmine Trinca)--struggle to come to terms with what Victor Hugo called the "divine and terrible radiance" of grief. Wise and surprisingly witty, the film is a minor masterpiece and could serve as a fitting companion piece to America's In the Bedroom, another superb film about the torments of bereavement.

 
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