Film: In the Bedroom

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Film:

In the Bedroom

Director: Todd Field
Honors:
Genres:
Distributor: Miramax

When a film with such emotional resonance and visual poise as In the Bedroom makes it to the screen, it seems an unexpected gift meant to remind us of the medium’s possibility for sensitivity and epiphany. First-time director Todd Field, who adapted the film from a story by Andre Dubus with screenwriter Rob Festinger, quietly observes the loss, rage, and inexorable desire for revenge that follows the murder of a 21-year-old son. The film opens with Frank (Nick Stahl), back from college for the summer, taking up with Natalie (Marisa Tomei), a slightly…

Reviews

Amazon.com

When a film with such emotional resonance and visual poise as In the Bedroom makes it to the screen, it seems an unexpected gift meant to remind us of the medium’s possibility for sensitivity and epiphany. First-time director Todd Field, who adapted the film from a story by Andre Dubus with screenwriter Rob Festinger, quietly observes the loss, rage, and inexorable desire for revenge that follows the murder of a 21-year-old son. The film opens with Frank (Nick Stahl), back from college for the summer, taking up with Natalie (Marisa Tomei), a slightly older, sexually alluring woman with two boys and an estranged husband prone to violence. It is the tender portrayal of love between Frank and his parents, even as Frank and Natalie’s relationship reveals the prejudices of all involved, that makes the subsequent anguish of the film so acute. Matt and Ruth Fowler (Tom Wilkinson and Sissy Spacek), middle-class denizens of a Maine lobster town where everyone knows each other, toil through weeks of devastation and blame following Frank’s murder before their outrage obliterates all else. Field’s exact handling of jealousy, class division, and grief is abetted by career-highlight performances from Wilkinson and Spacek. In the Bedroom is, along with You Can Count On Me, one of the best American dramas to grace the new millennium so far. —Fionn Meade

Barnes and Noble

Actor Todd Field makes his directing debut with this somber, heart-wrenching drama about a middle-aged couple (Sissy Spacek and Tom Wilkinson) whose lives are torn apart by an unspeakable tragedy. Based on a short story by Andre Dubus, In the Bedroom is deft in its use of visual metaphor and novelistic in its attention to detail as it carefully establishes Ruth and Matt Fowler’s comfortable, happy world. Their rambling house in a quaint New England coastal town is straight out of Martha Stewart Living, and their only son, Frank (Nick Stahl), is a golden boy—handsome, intelligent, and college bound. All that shadows the family’s sun-dappled existence is Mom’s concern about Frank’s relationship with his sexy girlfriend (Marisa Tomei), a working-class woman ten years his senior who is saddled with two kids and a jealous, abusive ex-husband. The violence that erupts from it, however, exceeds even her worst fears. What could have easily slipped into TV-movie sensationalism becomes a nuanced exploration of parental grief, thanks to pitch-perfect performances by Oscar nominees Spacek and Wilkinson. We watch as the Fowlers’ reserve slowly crumbles, releasing hidden wells of anger and pain that rise to a devastating emotional crescendo. A Sundance hit that was nominated for five Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Supporting Actress (Tomei), In the Bedroom tackles the grimmest of subject matter with grace and power. Kryssa Schemmerling

Related Works

Album:In the Bedroom: Original Soundtrack

In the Bedroom: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Thomas Newman

This intense first feature by actor-turned-director Todd Field daringly ventures into an emotionally unsettling minefield of family and romantic relationships gone dangerously wrong. Field, hailed for his masterful touch with the difficult material, shrewdly chose Thomas Newman to score the film. Known almost as much for what’s not in his frequently modernistic scores—i.e. traditional dramatic themes and overwrought orchestral sentimentality—Newman once again follows his experimental muse to great effect here. The work is considerably less percussive than similar…

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