A Film That Is Both Moving And Challenging
Timothy Kearney | Hull, MA United States | 07/04/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The story of a father being reunited with a long lost son can do one of two things: bring us to familiar territory that is often hackneyed, or teach us new lessons about humanity. THE KEYS OF THE HOUSE does the latter.
The film tells the story of Gianni, a thirty something man who fathered a child as a teenager. The young woman died giving birth and Gianni decides never to see the child. Fifteen years later, he is married with a newborn son and learns that his son Paolo, who is severely disabled, would benefit from contact with his father and it is at this point the film begins. Gianni is surprised at how quickly he feels love for the child, due largely to the genuineness of Paolo, but in his first few days of meeting his son, he also begins to discover the complexities that will inevitably be a part of this relationship. At the end of the film we are left wondering what will happen to the pair, which could be a "happily ever after" scenario or abandonment.
One of the reasons the film works so well is due to the character Nicole played masterfully by Charlotte Rampling. Nicole is the mother of a child more profoundly disabled that Paolo. She supports Gianni but also is honest enough to share her conflicting feelings. She does a wonderful job at presenting a mother that both loves and resents her child and admires Gianni while at the same time being repulsed by him.
I cannot help but see how viewers will be moved by this film. Though the film is generally upbeat, there are no "feel good" moments in it, but the film doesn't need it. The character of Paolo whose goodness and heart are so evident throughout the film does what so many other films cannot do. Its honesty will challenge anyone, speaking not as a viewer unaware of the realities of people with disabilities, but as a brother of a person with Cerebral Palsy who has had to wrestle with some of the issues found in this film. It is a film I am glad to have in my collection and one I know I will see differently each time I view it.
The Keys to the House Open the Heart
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 07/02/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"LE CHIAVI DI CASA (THE KEYS TO THE HOUSE) is a brave, humble, simple, eloquent work of art. Director and writer (with Sandro Petraglia) Gianni Amelio has the courage to address a subject that is difficult for most viewers and has created one of the more tender love stories on film. Aided by an incomparably fine cast and a fine cinematographer (Luca Bigazzi) and composer (Franco Piersanti), he has found a means to touch everyone with a story that, BECAUSE of its subject matter, gives more insight into the human condition than almost any other film to date.
Amelio begins his story quietly and progresses slowly, allowing the viewer to cope with the realities of the tale in a manner of comfort. In the opening scene Gianni (Kim Rossi Stuart) is meeting with Alberto (Pierfrancesco Favino) in a frank discussion about the status of Paolo (Andrea Rossi), the son of Gianni whom he has never seen, the child being born as his girlfriend dies in childbirth. Alberto and his wife have been caring for Paolo for fifteen years, loving him, admiring him, working with the fact that Paolo has cerebral palsy with he concomitant handicaps of distorted limbs but with a mind and heart completely normal. Paolo's doctor has informed Alberto that perhaps having Paolo connect with his birth father may aid his progress in walking normally and increasing his self-care. So at this meeting Alberto, regrettably, turns Paolo over to the hesitant Gianni, an appliances worker who is now married and has a new child.
Gianni and Paolo meet for the first time, board a train to Berlin for the best Children's Orthopedic Hospital available. Very gradually the two begin to learn about each other; Paolo wants to prove he is self-reliant, Gianni wants to prove he is an adequate caregiver. In Berlin Gianni observes Paolo's intensive physical training, finding the boy's strengths and qualities and need for love. While Paolo is hospitalized Gianni meets Nicole (the brilliant Charlotte Rampling) whose 20-year-old daughter Nadine (Alla Faerovich) is severely physically challenged: Nicole has devoted her life to being at the bedside of Nadine and shares with Gianni the truths about parenting challenged children. Their conversations are sage and realistic and enormously touching.
Gianni and Paolo begin to bond, to share their lives, to explain the fifteen year gap in their relationship, and Gianni agrees to fulfill Paolo's dream of going to Norway to meet Paolo's pen pal love Kristine. Along this 'road trip' the two ultimately face the idiosyncrasies life has offered each, they grow from each other and .... well, the ending is far too beautifully formed to spoil.
Obviously the easy way to make this film would have been to hire actors to 'mimic' challenged characters, but it is to Amelio's credit and for our good fortune that he has cast unknown physically challenged youths in the pivotal roles. Andrea Rossi as Paolo is a revelation: he gives the kind of performance that is at once honest and yet delicately nuanced. Both Kip Rossi Stuart and Charlotte Rampling are extraordinary, each playing their roles without a trace of bathos. This film does not stab for emotional response; it simply allows connection with a story about the importance of human love and compassion and family commitment. I cannot recommend a film more highly. Grady Harp, July 05"
A must movie all the human kind need to watch
Nick La Soiree | San Francisco,CA USA | 02/02/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I was utterly astonished and enlightened to know the fact someone actually produced such a difficult movie in every sense.
It is very important for most of us ,who have been contaminated by typical Hollywood money and fame crazed film making scheme,to watch this film.
This movie is so sincerely and realistically produced that I could not even tell during the first 15 minutes that if one particular young actor was actually acting and when I realized that he was acting,that was another refreshing surprise.
I thought Sean Penn did a wonderful job in "I am Sam ",but this movie is 100 times better.It deals with rather a tragic theme in an extremely quiet and non-dramatic way ,yet the movie does not make us cry. Instead it makes us strong and aware of the necessity of world compassion.
I am very appreciative for all the people who were involved in making this movie."
wdanthemanw | Geneva, Switzerland | 04/25/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"THE KEYS TO THE HOUSE was written and directed by Gianni Amelio in 2004. The film is based on a novel written by Giuseppe Pontiggia. Let's observe that another novel of this writer Born Twice is read and brought to life by Charlotte Rampling in a few scenes of the film.
The Amazon reviewers have eloquently praised the tactful way Gianni Amelio handles a so delicate topic as handicapped children. As I totally agree with them, I would rather like to point out here a few elements subtly suggested by the director in the movie. First of all, it's not happening by chance if the action of THE KEYS TO THE HOUSE takes place in Berlin, Germany. For an European viewer, the city of Berlin implies all kinds of connotations that come immediately to mind when this city is mentioned. So, Berlin can be considered as the center of Europe, a fact very important here since the characters of the film will have to go first to Norway in the extreme northern part of Europe before taking the decision to come back to Gianni's homeland, Italy, a country symbolizing, in our collective unconscious, the South. I believe that it could be interesting to decode THE KEYS OF THE HOUSE with this geographical metaphor in mind.
Another way to appreciate the film is to observe how Gianni Amelio confines the characters in hotel rooms, stuffy corridors with locked windows, trains, subways and at last Gianni's car in Norway in a very claustrophobic manner. We are literally conditioned to feel, like the little Paolo, an intense sense of relief and liberty when he finally runs away from his father or during the crossing of the North Sea.
When I watch a film like THE KEYS TO THE HOUSE, I suddenly remember why I like so much movies.
A DVD for your library.