Aprile (1998) and The Son’s Room (2001)

In DVD/Blu-ray by Samuel Love

Debuting on UK Blu-ray for the first time with sparkling new restorations from StudioCanal, Aprile (1998) and The Son’s Room (2001) are two of many shining jewels in the crown of celebrated filmmaker Nanni Moretti. Released individually – and available on DVD and digital alongside the Blu-rays – the films are a perfect introduction to the artist’s work, and a reminder of his versatility and many talents.

First up, 1998’s Aprile is a semi-autobiographical account of Moretti’s experiences in fatherhood, with Moretti starring as the central character – a filmmaker who has to deal with Italy’s volatile political situation, his own goals as an artist and becoming a father. A follow-up of sorts to Moretti’s 1993 film Dear Diary, Aprile is similarly presented as something of a video journal. The film feels at times like a glorified home movie mixed with a visual soapbox as Moretti philosophises about the state of Italy’s politics at the time. It’s certainly an interesting piece of work and an invaluable snapshot of Nanni Moretti, as he shares his anxieties and joys through the eccentric and heartfelt film. While it is at times a little over-political, it is a charming and fascinating 78 minutes that reminds viewers why Moretti is such a celebrated figure.

The real buzz around these releases, though, is centred around Palme D’or winning masterpiece The Son’s Room (La Stanza del Figlio) from 2001. Following a family in the wake of a loss, this powerful study of grief, bereavement and response to tragedy shows Moretti at the absolute peak of his powers as he writes, directs and stars in the acclaimed drama. Thoughtful and tender, the at-times overtly sentimental film might be a little overly soppy for some viewers – but there’s no denying the power and poignancy thanks to wonderful performances and a superb script. Fans of world cinema and drama should certainly seek this title out, as it finally receives the kind of release it has always warranted.

Both of the films look absolutely wonderful in their new restorations and are very worthy additions to StudioCanal’s Vintage World Cinema Collection, where they now sit among La Strada, Belle De Jour and more. These acclaimed films show filmmaker Nanni Moretti at his absolute peak, and serve as an extraordinary introduction to the celebrated artist.