The Keys to the House - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Keys to the House Reviews

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November 18, 2015
B R A V O ! .. a superb "documentary" thanks to a non-actor Andrea Rossi, who as "the obvious weakest link" saved the giants
½ July 13, 2013
A fairly simple story about a father trying to build a new relationship with his special needs son who he abandoned at birth. A great performance from Kim Rossi Stuart and a welcome supporting performance from the always great Charlotte Rampling. It's one major flaw is that its scenes with the special needs kids feel a bit too Special Olympics triumph of the human spirit.
April 9, 2013
A film that will stay with you because of its portrayal of a young man with disabilities who was abandoned by his father and how he copes with life. In particular it's about a few days when his natural father is united with his 15-year-old son and the effect it has on both of them.The strength of the film is the astonishing performance by Andrea Rossi as the son Paolo and very strong performances by Kim Rossi Stuart as his father Gianni and Charlotte Rampling as the mother of another patient at the hospital. Rampling really provides the heart of the story, the heartbreak, guilt, love, and perseverance of a parent of a child with severe disabilities. She provides the voice of a lifetime of experience to Gianni who is experiencing this for the first time.The weakness of the film is the back story -- why after 15 years is Gianni finally accepting some responsibility. The idea that his son's doctors think it might be helpful is ludicrous. Shipping off the son by himself with a stranger who doesn't know how to take care of him is child abuse. However the resulting interaction between Paolo and Gianni is riveting and the writers don't give any easy answers or resolution.Visually the film is interesting with trains and other transportation being a primary motif for the changes the characters are experiencing as they travel across Europe.
½ April 11, 2012
A great look at parents (new or not) of children with disabilities. Honest portrayals, interesting insights, and great scenes between father and son. Worth a viewing.
Super Reviewer
November 12, 2011
I pulled this movie off the shelf of a rental store at random. I don't really know what compelled me to grab it, but I took it home for a little cinematic gamble. You never know - sometimes you strike gold. This time I did find a true gem. I can honestly say this is one of the best, deepest, and most profound films I have ever seen. The messages are so moving and so artfully communicated. I watched it over and over and over and showed it to my family and friends because this was a discovery that couldn't be kept a secret. It sticks in your mind and you find yourself running over the beautiful nuances of it again and again. One could write a book on everything that's not directly said in the film but lies just beneath the surface. What's more, all this artistry is somehow accomplished without resorting to any Hollywood-formula safety nets.

As the film begins we are introduced to Gianni, who we later learn is about to come face to face with his tortured past. Fifteen years prior to where we come in, a much younger and less wise Gianni impregnated his young girlfriend. She dies tragically in childbirth, but the child survives, though he is severely handicapped. Gianni, no doubt, felt guilt-ridden and in despair - feelings which were only exacerbated by the anger, resentment, and blame he likely felt from the girl's family. The anguish and the guilt were too much for him and he fled, something for which we cannot really blame him, condemned to seek out atonement elsewhere in his new life, which he is determined to do the right way this time. The abandoned child is then taken in by the sister and brother-in-law of the girlfriend.

Flash forward fifteen years where the doctors of Paolo (the child) think it would be beneficial for him to have his father in his life. Here we come in and watch these two struggle to be a family and make up for all those lost years. Gianni, now seeing Paolo for the very first time, feels an instant paternal bond to him. Not only is he confronting his original guilt, but it is now compounded by his fifteen year absence. The whole while he is trying to prove himself as an able caregiver, but he is constantly reminded of his inadequacy. The irony here lies in Gianni's wizard-of-oz complex. He perceives himself to be a failure when, in reality, he proves to be quite a fantastic dad.

Paolo, on the other hand, has a very conflicting agenda. It is said in the course of the film that Paolo likely lacked the affection an infant needs early on. As a result he is very much in need of love as well as independence, probably due to his feeling alone during much of his formative years. The paradox, then, is that, due largely to his severe handicaps, Paolo can never be truly independent. The whole time, however, he tries to show that he can take care of himself as well as be vitally useful to everyone else. He keeps saying how he has so much to do and how busy he is and how they are needing him back home. The keys to the house, for Paolo, embody his need to be important and feel needed - not needy.

As Gianni tries to take care of Paolo and Paolo tries to demonstrate his capability, we must sit back and watch the very real-life conflict play out. Charlotte Rampling's character, a mother of another handicapped girl at the hospital they go to, very appropriately tells Gianni that if he plans to be a part of Paolo's life and be close to him to expect suffering. Parenthood is certainly not easy, and their situation complicates it greatly.

The film ends at a very moving crescendo that took me by surprise the first time, but as I've re-watched and contemplated it there is no other ending to be had. It is the most appropriate. It is beautifully simple and simply beautiful.
January 5, 2011
A touching and affecting portrait of human relationships The Keys to the House is the tale of a father, Gianni trying to form a relationship with the severely physically and mentally handicapped son, Paolo, he abandoned at birth 15 years previously.
Having been raised by his aunt and her partner, Paolo has developed a keen sense of determination and a sensitivity that his father seems ill prepared for. We find them on a trip to a specialist hospital ward in Berlin where Paolo is to undergo tests and treatment for his condition and it is here that they meet Nicole, mother to another handicapped child. It is she that helps Gianni come to terms with his actions and prepare him for what he is to face and this leads to a journey where Gianni learns as much about himself as he does about his son.
Kim Rossi Stuart as Gianni is magnificent and manages to impart a difficult role with a touching humanity and vulnerability. Andrea Rossi as Paolo allows us an insight into a world that craves independence but needs constant reassurance and support. Charlotte Rampling as Nicole proves why she is one of the finest actors of her generation as she manages to convey more emotion in a single glance than many can in a whole movie.
This is not a big story, it is a quiet, reflective and intimate tale and it is beautifully directed. Gianni Amelio allows his cast to play out the full depth and range of emotions that the story requires. There are long periods of silence and the film is peppered with tiny moments of tenderness and humanity which make this a rare and effective gem of a movie that has lessons for all of us.
½ September 27, 2010
i quite enjoyed this, rather sad, but also incredibly sweet. i loved how their relationship kind of grows and evolves, or so the father thinks. i specially like the kid's reaction to meeting his dad for the first time: keep on playing with this gameboy. and i loved how the dad's insecurities and even 'shame' for having fathered a disabled kid are also included in the story. i wasn't sure about charlotte rampling's character at all at the beginning, too much of a sanctimonious cow for my liking, but then the scene where she breaks down was very good; she could only collapse that well if she was placed so morally high before, i guess; that worked. and i loved the ending. my favourite bit was one of the sweet scenes, though, when father and son write an email to the kid's 'girlfriend'. really touching.
March 17, 2010
acotors & actress were just amazing
½ January 9, 2010
A brilliantly enacted and executed family drama. Superb performance from the kid, Andrea Rossi.
A serious story overall, with a fair share of light moments and poignant ones. A beautiful ending.
½ December 23, 2009
A film about a father trying to reconnect with his long neglected son. It's quite touching and IT successfully avoids traps to becoming an over sentimental tear jerker
½ November 27, 2009
so touching; a father meets his handicapped son for the first time after he was born, and getting through the struggles within and out...a real good one, which passes the emotion !
not to mention that its a double pleasure when the father character is sooo good looking :)
September 19, 2009
This is kind of an "After-school Special", but a really good one. Charlotte Rampling makes it.
April 11, 2009
:fresh: [b][i]Slow moving but effective drama that shows the real life of the parents with sons suffering a disability. The performances are a triumph, specially Charlotte Rampling's. It's not an issue I particularly enjoy to watch, but I must recognize it is a good film.[/i][/b]
½ April 10, 2009
Excellent movie, with great performances, a good story. Very moving. It was at a slow pace.
½ December 30, 2008
it's a really realistic movie...
October 21, 2008
un film sensible et émouvant
½ September 21, 2008
Beautifully describes chaos on the inside
August 28, 2008
OMG que peli me encanto!!!
½ August 8, 2008
great movie... and he's really hot
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