Good: 'The Son's Room' (Nanni Moretti, 2001)
There's an end scene that shows how a family moves on from grief and it's so beautiful it makes me want to cry. It's a movie where nothing much happens in the first half apart from showing the family life of a mother, father and their two teenage sons. Then one son is killed scuba-diving.
Leading up to this scene, the family discover that their son had a secret girlfriend. She comes to meet them with her new boyfriend, but they are desperate to discover anything about their son, and they overwhelm the girl, and she has to leave. The family drive her to the bus station.
Shot as though from the bus boarded by the girl and her boyfriend, we see the three family members walking along the beach in a travelling shot. What's so gentle about this portrayal of grief is that they look like any ordinary family, yet they've had this terrible experience. I felt that the family will be strong enough to cope with their loss and that they will have good times ahead - and possibly be gentler to one another. It's also my favourite scene because, having just become the father of twins, I recall an interview with Nanni Moretti. He was saying it was written as his first child was arriving, and came from his fears for his child.
Bad; 'The Pledge' (Sean Penn, 2001)
This also deals with death but it's totally different. There's a scene when the hero says he might be a murderer, and I find this character arc sickening. The movie is about a retired sheriff, played by Jack Nicholson (pictured), who promises the mother of a murdered girl that he will find her killer. He takes some drawings done by the girl to a psychologist to see if they hold any clues. He's clearly feeling uncomfortable. The psychologist asks him about his own state of mind. He says he's fine. Then we hear a voice in his head saying: "You killed that girl." Maybe I'm soft, but I don't want to watch a film where the hero has a dual personality and could be a killer. I don't want my film heroes treated in such a way.Reuse content