At home in Italy, the rabbinic-looking Nanni Moretti has the status of a young Woody Allen. Here, he’s a professional griever. The Son’s Room, Moretti’s 2001 Cannes winner, had its star coping with filial death. Now, Quiet Chaos (uncertainly helmed by Antonello Grimaldi) casts him as a dad who returns home from the beach to find his wife collapsed on the patio, surrounded by slices of melon. His character, Pietro, immediately attaches to his preteen daughter (Yoshimi), taking her to school and staying outside until she emerges. His day job, something to do with a business merger, takes a backseat to the little girl and, as the weeks pass, friends begin to worry.
The scenes between Moretti and his young costar are tender, unsentimental and true to the evasions of a difficult subject. He reads her stories in bed and she interrupts him to explain what a palindrome is. Unfortunately, though, Quiet Chaos can’t help but become heated, and a ridiculous climax—involving a lengthy bout of MILF sex, a runaway dog and (I kid you not) a Roman Polanski cameo—sabotages much of the emotional weight. Healing takes many forms, granted. But this upended family was coming along nicely one-on-one.—Joshua Rothkopf
Opens Fri; IFC. Find showtimes