Both the healer and the healed have at least one thing in common between them: both have a multitude of emotions inside them. Giovanni (Nanni) Moretti’s Palme d’Or winning 2001 film, La Stanza Del Figlio (The Son’s Room) gifts us with the clouds of sorrow and grief which consumes a happy family comprising a father, mother, and their daughter when their teenage son dies in a diving accident.
Giovanni Sermonti (Nanni Moretti), a psychoanalyst by profession is called by the principal of his son. A fossil is stolen from the laboratory; his son Andrea (Giuseppe Sanfelice) and his friend Luciano are the prime suspects; they are suspended even though there wasn’t any confession on their part. His patients are mostly obsessed with some thing or the other: a man who wants to die, a woman who cleans and sets dates for reforms, a young man obsessed with pornography and sex etc. He listens to them attentively like a friend, consoles, guides and motivates them occasionally. His wife Paola (Laura Morante) is an office-going but rather homely lady devoted to her husband and attached to their son and daughter, Irene (Jasmine Trinca). It is a close-knit family; the parents spend time with the kids, support their sports besides the education and enjoy their time together. One fine Sunday, Giovanni plans for a run with Andrea but has to go outskirts of the city to a patient. Meanwhile, Andrea goes diving in the sea with his friends and the accident occurs. Irene’s basketball game is interrupted by the news and shadow of gloominess hovers above the fossils of the family.
The jolt due to the accident breaks all the natural relations inside the family; there are emotional outbursts; grief, anger and despair take their toll. Giovanni cannot concentrate on his patients, dreams of alternative versions of the day, had he gone on a run with Andrea, had he not gone to meet the patient. By thinking all these, he is consumed by grief and starts partially blaming himself for the catastrophe. The consequence is: his relationship with his grief-stricken wife is at nadir, he gives up his profession as a psychoanalyst. His emotions do not let him continue his work; his emotions interfere with the patients’. Amidst these events, Paola receives a letter addressed to Andrea from a girl named Arianna, Andrea’s girlfriend. They met during a camping trip few months before his untimely death. Paola wants to see her; she calls her, gives the news to Arianna asks for a meeting. After few days, Arianna suddenly comes to their house one evening. Giovanni welcomes her in absence of Paola; they chat and she shows the photos of Andrea’s room which he sent her. Paola, on returning, initially hesitant, welcomes her warmly and invites for dinner. But, she is going for hitchhiking with a friend; so Giovanni, Paola and Irene take them to a place for bus. But after waiting for some time, they decide on taking them further. As the children are asleep, Giovanni continues driving: to the french border, seashore. The two children takes off in a bus for France the next morning, the family walks in the beach, facing the sea.
The psychoanalyst is a human, who feels sorrow, has his moments, outbursts much like his patients. After Andrea’s death, Giovanni is not in a position to act as a help to his patients, he himself needs help; the healer and the healed are brought to the same condition by Nanni Moretti. His relationship with Paola grows distant; they cannot help each other as they are somewhat selfish in their sorrow and guilt. Paola is in her own world of mourning and Giovanni in his sphere of grief moulded with guilt and despair. Irene is also not devoid of sudden emotional outbreaks though her parents try to appear calm in her presence. Arianna is the healer that brings the family together again. While driving on the night, when the children are sleeping, Giovanni tells Paola,” Don’t fall asleep too, okay? Let’s keep each other awake.” This message beautifully starts their relationship anew, where they will keep each other alive by their mutual affection and love towards Irene.
By this River by Brian Eno is a beautiful song and its use in in this film makes it more touching. Most of the film is shot indoors, where the shots are mostly lit in a single tone. The camera naturally captures and focuses the slowly changing emotions and moods of the characters against the similar background. The story is gracefully supported by the cast of Nanni Moretti, Laura Morante and Jasmine Trinca are all very emotionally strong in their roles. The final image will remain a long time in the memory; the trio is walking in the sandy beach of the coastal town as Arianna looks from the leaving bus. The blue sea, the nature is healing their pain which is slowing drifting away as they step on their future of life, where the pain is antiquated by poise.
Film Score: 85
Director: Giovanni Moretti Screenplay: Giovanni Moretti, Linda Ferri, Heidrun Schleef Cinematography: Guiseppe Lanci Editing: Esmeralda Calabria Production Design: Giancarlo Basili Costume Design: Maria Rita Barbara Music: Nicola Piovani Cast: Giovanni Moretti, Laura Morante, Jasmine Trinca