Keys To The House

aka LE CHIAVI DI CASA (Italy)
aka LES CLEFS
DE LA MAISON (France)
aka THE HOUSE KEYS
Movie Review by Neils Hesse

Starring: Kim Rossi Stuart, Charlotte Rampling, Andrea Rossi, Alla Faerovich
Director: Gianni Amelio

Sometimes in life there are things that you can avoid but not refuse. Gianni (Kim Rossi Stuart) is a young Italian man with a wife and child. Paolo (Andrea Rossi) is a physically and mentally disabled 15 year-old boy who lives with his uncle and aunt as his mother died giving birth to him and his father has remained unknown to him until now. Gianni is Paolo’s father. He has denied his existence for all this time for reasons that even he cannot fully comprehend. He is asked by his former brother-in-law to take Paolo on a trip to Germany for some treatment at an acclaimed hospital. On this trip Gianni finds himself experiencing shame for denying his son for so long but at the same time he also discovers pride, joy and a need to protect his son. For Paolo the trip allows him to see and experience life in an exciting new light.

As the film begins you have the misconception that the film is going to be mediocre but once the disabled child appears on screen you will realise how wrong you were. Andrea Rossi who plays Paolo is actually disabled in real life and prior to this film had no acting experience, this makes his performance painfully real. Charlotte Rampling gives a compelling cameo performance as a woman with a severely mentally and physically disabled daughter who has quite literally sucked the life out of her, leaving her with a mixture of resentment and parental love. Kim Rossi Stuart convincingly portrays the father who is suffering from guilt and shame for his son, but then finds himself and forms a very powerful bond with him.

The director Gianni Amelio has chosen to make a film that is not particularly sentimental, but is rather more emotional reality laced with some drama, and this mainly stems from his decision to use a disabled child instead of an actor. Still it makes for powerful and at times painfully realistic viewing.

In conclusion I would say that it works as a no frills, hard hitting, emotional journey – no more no less. It is a powerful experience, but not exactly a great cinema going experience.

3 out of 6 stars

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