StudioCanal release on 23rd November
StudioCanal make it a magnificent hat trick of releases this week with this superb restoration of Nanni Moretti’s Palme d’Or winning story of grief and bereavement.
For me, this is one of the most outstanding films of the first twenty years of this century, one that will always feature in my list of great cinematic experiences. And I hope this restored version brings it to a new audience, and allows those who saw it on its release appreciate it once more.
Moretti wrote, directed and stars as psychiatrist Giovanni, who lives with wife Paola (Laura Morante) son Andrea (Giuseppe Sanfelicem) and daughter Irene (Jasmine Trinca) in a small Italian coastal town until one day the family suffers the devastating loss of Andrea in a diving accident.
Giovanni had been due to spend the day with Andrea, but cancelled to make a house call to a patient. Having been shown as growing quietly but increasingly dissatisfied with the little help that he feels he is offering his patients, superficial near platitudes after listening to them reveal everyday anxieties, he shuts his practice down.
He is not alone in plumbing the depths of despair, Irene and Paola (a magnificent study of a soul in torment by Morante; even to call it an impeccable performance is to lessen what she does here) are unable to cope.
Moretti’s quiet, subtle direction brings out the essence of grief without resorting to histrionics. I recall something that was once said about Alastair Sim, that “you never notice him acting” – high praise that applies here to Morante, Trinca and Moretti himself. There is a scene in the funeral parlour that brought tears to my eyes when I first saw this film; it happened again this time. It’s the tenderness that pervades the film that brings our humanity to the surface.
And in the end, it’s Moretti’s humanity that gives us, like the family, a release into something approaching hope, a twist that arrives, uncontrived, but contriving to uplift the spirits. This is just a wonderful, wonderful film.