Quiet Chaos

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As well as writing, directing and appearing in his own work, Italian filmmaker Nanni Moretti sometimes acts for others, as is the case in this moving adaptation of a novel about a widowed father, which was a hit in Italy. Moretti, an endearing and humane presence, is Pietro, a businessman with the relaxed demeanour that only serious wealth allows. We meet him on a beach, playing ball with his laidback brother Carlo (Alessandro Gassman), before both are forced to dive into the sea to rescue a pair of women. One tragedy averted, another emerges: Pietro arrives back at his holiday home to find his ten-year-old daughter Claudia (Blu Yoshimi) in a state: her mother – his wife – has fallen and died.

The first few minutes threaten a weepie along the lines of Moretti’s ‘The Son’s Room’, but what unfolds involves a strange conceit that suggests a lower-budget American studio film seeking indie kudos: Pietro returns Claudia to school and proceeds to run his life from a nearby bench, honouring a promise that he’ll never stray far. He strikes up habits and acquaintances: there’s the blonde with the dog; the woman with a Down’s syndrome son who expects him to flash his lights; the guy that runs the local trattoria… Meanwhile, all sorts of shenanigans are unfolding at the office, culminating in a brief visit to the bench by a Richard Branson-type uber-exec played by a director whose identity I won’t reveal.

The film has flaws – not least an awkward use of songs by Radiohead, Rufus Wainwright and Stars – but it’s a thoughtful portrait of the purgatory of grief that prefers small incidences and exchanges over grand gestures of sentiment and revelation. It’s sad – but never cloying.

Release details

Release date: Friday October 24 2008
Duration: 112 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Antonello Grimaldi
Screenwriter: Nanni Moretti, Sandro Veronesi
Cast: Nanni Moretti
Valeria Golino
Isabella Ferrari
Alessandro Gassman
Blu Mankuma
Blu Di Martino
Silvio Orlando
Hippolyte Girardot

Average User Rating

4.2 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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Mother Jones

Do not know whether this film was any good or not; the subtitles were so inadequate, and I have some Italian. They were not only too sparse but sometimes tailed off in the middle of a sentence. I could tell that this was because what one needed to know appeared again, subtitled, in a few minutes, but you don't know that when a sentence doesn't end, do you?


There is something I have to get off my chest. I did not like this movie. The plot seemed weak, the characters shallow - the neurotic sister-in-law made me cringe; the little girl was great though. The main character I didn't find very endearing and the billed poignancy and profundity did not appear. There is nothing remarkable or moving about a man, a father, looking after his child after the death of a parent, unless you count ability to read bedtime stories, take time off work and do the school run. Sitting in a park might have led to a to more interesting cameos besides a good-looking blonde giving you the eye. It's a real pity we didn't have any view of his wife, and hence the ability to empathise with his grief. He didn't seemed to know, or like her particularly. Like some others reviewers, I concur that the sex scene is horribly irrelevant and gratuitous. Why put such a shocking scene of misogynistic, angry sex into a storyline about a man supposedly being kind, gentle, vulnerable, caring and loving? It provided a complete juxtaposition. Hard to watch. Harder to justify. I read in the closing credits that Roman Polanski was an “artistic advisor� – the guy who seduces 13 year old girls. Nice. I really wanted to like this movie, on my fiancee's recommendation. Could have really done with a feel-good movie and a tale of redemption and hope. Instead I was left reeling from something I did not expect to see, and safe to say it ruined my night. Don't bother!

Sabrina Ma

The sex scene is not gratuitous, and is (as I read from other reviews) a substantial part of the original book. Perhaps one can argue that the graphic sex is also a reflection of Pietro's subdued, but violent, reaction to the loss of his wife? (The woman is this sex scene is the one Pietro saved from drowning).


I was really enjoying this film As usual Nanni Moretti made acting look effortless. Then the director, for reasons I will never understand, chose to insert a gratuitous sex scene, which I found completely out of context and quite hard to watch. I'm not a prude, it just didn't fit with with the mood of the film. Shame, really. Still worth seeing for the rest of the film, though.

geri davies

Good script, a really clever adaptation from an excellent book. Good performances all around, look out for a surprise cameo at the end.

geri davies

Good script, a really clever adaptation from an excellent book. Good performances all around, look out for a surprise cameo at the end.