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The Keys To The House
Think Italian Rain Man, and you're set to enjoy this sensitively told drama.

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A teenage boy is reunited with his father, who abandoned him and his mother from the time of his birth. The boy has a physical disability, and we follow the journey of the father's coming to terms with this, through guilt, shame and compassion.

This Italian, Rain Man-like journey of self-discovery tackles issues like guilt, shame and compassion with admirable sensitivity. It sees Kim Rossi Stuart as a father who has to come to terms with the physical disability of the teenage son (Andrea Rossi) he'd abandoned after the child's mother died giving birth.

It all could have descended into patronising sentimentality, especially after Rossi Stuart conquers his embarrassment at his offspring's laboured gait to strike up an affectionate relationship. But director Gianni Amelio adds a note of sobering realism by contrasting this newfound enthusiasm with the exhausted devotion of Charlotte Rampling's Nicole, whose own handicapped daughter is receiving treatment at the same Berlin clinic. Only a pointless Norwegian subplot feels unpersuasively forced.

Yes. Amelio's gebnerally delicate handling of a subject which is potentially a minefield of sentimentality comes up trumps.

Reviewed by Patrick Peters

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