from Film Forum, 02/28/02
American critics are celebrating the arrival of an Italian film called The Son's Room, which won the Palme d'Or award at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival. The plot sounds suspiciously like that of In the Bedroom, as it focuses on a family grieving the tragic and abrupt death of their teenage son. But instead of revenge, this family works at healing and moving on. Director Nanni Morretti has gained an Oscar nomination for his film, in which he plays a character similar to himself. Some critics feel his exploration of grief is more rewarding and profound than the much-lauded Bedroom, which had bigger stars and a wider release.
While In the Bedroom "shifts dramatic gears and goes off the rails a bit in its final act, The Son's Room is more consistent in tone and more satisfying," writes Peter Chattaway (The Vancouver Courier). "One of the reasons the film works so well is that it keeps introducing little surprises that push the film in subtly different directions than we might have expected it to go." Chattaway praises the fiim as "gentle, patient … uncharacteristically straightforward … [and unwilling] to settle for easy hope or easy despair."
The USCCB's critic calls it "poignant" and says, "the character-driven, gentle drama is emotionally resonant and finely edited, expressing an aching parental grief that derives comfort from an odd situation."
Stanley Kauffmann (The New Republic) says, "Moretti seems to be savoring the film, learning as much about it as we do while it goes along."