Directed by Nanni Moretti, starring Nanni Moretti, Laura Morante, Jasmine Trinca and Giuseppe Sanfelice.
Psychoanalyst Giovanni (Moretti) has settled into mid-life contentment, bemused and frustrated by his patients but comforted by the fact that his beautiful wife Paola (Morante) and teenage children Andrea (Sanfelice) and Irene (Trinca) are waiting for him at the end of every day. A decision to go running with the doted-on Andrea is postponed one Sunday, when a patient calls to ask for a session with Giovanni. Andrea instead decides to go diving with some friends, but he gets into difficulty and dies, leaving his parents and sister to drag themselves and then each other from the wreckage of that day.
A turnaround from his more light-hearted work, Moretti's Palme d'Or winning film is a beautifully measured examination of familial grief with superb performances from everyone onscreen. From the tender, childlike score to bright cinematography, it refuses to pander to maudlin or over-the–top sentiments but still manages to cut straight to the sheer bewilderment of the life in slow motion which follows the death of a loved one.
Little happens in the early scenes shared by the four family members, Moretti focusing on the small things, which ultimately prove the most memorable - a move which reaches its tragic zenith when Giovanni pats Andrea's head before leaving to meet his patient. This gentle moment is then brought into sharper focus as the director highlights the arbitrary nature of life - showing that Giovanni, Paola and Irene could also have been the victims of accidents on the day of Andrea's death.
The grief that pours out after the boy's passing moves from numbness to rage and back but no scene ever jars or upsets the rhythm of the film. The family splits into individuals who hide themselves in their own worlds - a bedroom door acting as a fortress wall. Giovanni resumes sessions with his patients but finds that he now has no distance from them; Paola also goes back to work as a way of escaping her husband, while Irene is driven to become a better basketball player.
But the last third of the film brings consolation to both family and audience when a young girl, whom Andrea had met on a camping trip but who is unaware of the tragedy, writes to tell him that she loves him. Her letter gives the family a surprise chapter in Andrea's life and gently signals the start of the healing process. Even then there are no trite conclusions but through a meeting with the girl, you feel that the family has realised for the first time since Andrea's death that they have each other.
We're all guilty of worrying about things that are completely unimportant; this film is a wonderful reminder that we shouldn't.