Directed by Gianni Amelio, starring Kim Rossi Stuart, Andrea Rossi, Charlotte Rampling and Alla Faerovich.
Having never known his son Paolo (Rossi), Gianni (Rossi Stuart) re-enters the boy's life at the age of 15. Paolo's mother died during childbirth and Gianni, unable to accept that his son was born with muscular dystrophy, walked away. Paolo was brought up by his mother's family, while Gianni is now married with a baby son.
With Paolo going from Rome to Berlin for specialist treatment, the boy's uncle suggests that Gianni accompany him. They first meet on the train to the German capital, with Gianni trying to play catch-up regarding Paolo's needs. Paolo, for his part, talks to Gianni as if they have known each other for years. In the days ahead, Paolo faces many tests - but the greatest ones for both father and son will be outside the hospital.
Italy's selection for the 2004 Oscars, 'The Keys to the House' pulls at the heartstrings from the off but refuses to descend into mawkishness and instead celebrates mental and physical difference. Looking like he needs an extra carriage on the train for the guilt he's carrying around, Rossi Stuart gives a strong performance as Gianni, but the film belongs to his brilliant young co-star Rossi.
This is a film which shows love as being full of complexity and confusion - captured excellently by Rampling's performance as a lonely parent - and makes people the better because of both. The ending is rushed and when the story leaves Berlin it feels unnecessary, but you can't watch 'The Keys to the House' without taking a lot of positives from it. That's not an experience that happens too often.