A major filmmaker in his native Italy, writer-director-star Nanni Moretti (whose personal comedic dramas have often led to comparisons with Woody Allen) has been virtually ignored in the United States. Only CARO DIARIO (1994) saw a U.S. theatrical release; PALOMBELLA ROSSA (1989) is available on video. Moretti's international profile, however, was raised considerably in 2001 when this film, his 11th feature, won the Palm d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. While totally uncharacteristic of the kind of political, slyly self-referential films he's been making since the 1970s, it's a powerful piece of dramatic filmmaking. Moretti stars as Giovanni, a successful psychiatrist with a busy practice treating the assorted neurotics of the picture-perfect Northern Italian coastal town he and his family call home. Accurately described by one of his clients as a placid man, Giovanni recommends a passive approach to living, recognizing that very little of life is actually under one's complete control. It's an attitude that seems to work well for him: Giovanni is happily married to beautiful book publisher Paola (Laura Morante) and shares what he considers a close relationship with his teenaged daughter Irene (Jasmine Trinca) and son Andrea (Giuseppe Sanfelice). Lately, however, there have been a few problems: Andrea and his friends have been accused of stealing a valuable fossil from the school's Science department, and Giovanni and Paola are surprised to find themselves entertaining the idea that their son may in fact be guilty as charged. But nothing prepares Giovanni for the sudden tragedy that occurs one sunny Sunday afternoon. Called away from home by a desperate client, Giovanni cancels his plans to go jogging with Andrea. Andrea instead goes scuba diving with friends, and drowns in an underwater cave. Plunged into unimaginable grief, Giovanni attempts to carry on with his life, but bereft of his objectivity, he finds he's no longer able to function as an analyst. Bereft of his son, he wonders whether he can continue to function as a father and husband. It's tempting to compare Moretti's film with Todd Field's similarly themed IN THE BEDROOM, in which an apparently happy Maine family is destroyed by a son's sudden death. But where death in Field's film begets further violence, Moretti ultimately finds peace, and the rather banal revelation that life inevitably goes on comes as a spiritual balm. Occasionally melodramatic, the film is also extremely effective.
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- Released: 2001
- Rating: R
- Review: A major filmmaker in his native Italy, writer-director-star Nanni Moretti (whose personal comedic dramas have often led to comparisons with Woody Allen) has been virtually ignored in the United States. Only CARO DIARIO (1994) saw a U.S. theatrical release;… (more)