This directing debut by the well-known Italian actor Kim Rossi Stuart tells the story of a dysfunctional family in the big city, focusing on the 11-year-old son Tommi. This thoughtful child, acted with reticence yet conviction by the talented Alessandro Morace, has to cope with an adulterous and confused mother who keeps leaving the family. The father (played by Kim Rossi Stuart himself) who is left behind to bring up Tommi and his sister changes continuously and unexpectedly from being a caring parent into a frustrated spouse who takes out his own impotence and disappointment on his children. Tommi, who would gladly exchange the great swimming career his father has predicted for him for a friendly soccer club, is expected to remain a child while also playing an adult partner in a broken marriage: an impossible position for a sensitive youth on the brink of puberty and his first puppy love. Tommi involuntarily undergoes a rite of passage in which he basically has to transcend his own age.
The director tells his story without adornment yet with much feeling for drama. The actors are outstanding and Rossi Stuart masterfully keeps extreme emotions under control. In the end the father-son relationship reaches some kind of catharsis, while the film still evokes a shock that touches many familiar problems of one-parent families in an era filled with individualistic adults. (EH)