Tolstoy's observation about happy families each being alike undoubtedly extends from literature to film, but that doesn't make them inherently uncinematic. In its opening scenes, writer-director Nanni Moretti's The Son's Room, 2001's Palme D'Or winner at Cannes, carefully establishes the dynamic at work in its happy family. Moretti stars as a successful analyst who, with gallery-running wife Laura Morante, heads an almost idealized middle-class household filled out by teenage son Giuseppe Sanfelice and daughter Jasmine Trinca. Their greatest crisis comes when Sanfelice is accused of stealing a fossil from school, an accusation treated with great concern. In another medium, they could pass for an Italian incarnation of the Cosby family, but this being film, it's a set-up, a domestic idyll due for disruption when Sanfelice dies during a weekend diving trip. Greeting the loss at first with surprising strength, each survivor begins to lose hold. Distracted at work and distant at home, Moretti starts to dwell on ways he could have prevented the accident, never seeming to realize that, bit by bit, he's begun to shut down his own life. Beautifully acted and shot, the film's most remarkable feature is also something of a paradox: It's at once incredibly emotional and doggedly unsentimental. The Son's Room expends great energy creating an easy-to-like, fully functional family before revealing its helplessness in the face of a crisis. For a time, it seems to suggest that nothing can equip a person for such a devastating, unexpected loss; then, as it progresses, it shifts to suggest something else. At moments, Moretti's reserved direction appears to work against the film. Like his character, it seems to have difficulty fully engaging the emotions at hand, but in the end, it's that reserve that makes it work. Keeping his distance, the director lets viewers see in full the moments in which grief turns the world into a narrow, never-ending tunnel.