Projections - Movie Reviews

In the Bedroom

In the Bedroom

Writer and first-time director Todd Field's gripping drama about a family coping with a tragedy, showcases two of the best performances of 2001.

High school chorus teacher Ruth Fowler (Sissy Spacek), her physician husband Matt (Tom Wilkinson) and their teenage son Frank (Nick Stahl) live in Camden, Maine, a small seaside town.

The Fowlers have a nice life and from the opening scenes of backyard barbecues and bedroom playfulness, they enjoy a happy marriage.  But, all of that is destroyed when they suffer a terrible tragedy.

Frank is planning to attend college in the fall, but during his summer he's romancing Natalie (Marisa Tomei), a thirty-something mother of two boys who is separated from an abusive husband (William Mcpather).

Ruth is opposed to her son's relationship and warns him to cool things with Natalie before it becomes too serious.  Matt, however is probably secretly envious of his son's affair with the pretty woman and doesn't want to interfere.

The pace of the film is very slow.  Field uses a fade to black technique with gives a feeling of finality to each scene.  It lets the audience know there's time to take a deep breath in between and gear up for the next gut wrenching scene.

The Fowler's grief is shown in two very different ways.  Matt goes back to work, asks questions, follows details, and Ruth smokes one cigarette after another while sitting for hours in from of a TV she doesn't really watch.

Neither one talks to the other and their pent up grief is very difficult to watch.  You're almost wishing that someone would scream or sob uncontrollably.  Anything to clear the air would be welcome.

Spacek is marvelous as the controlled Ruth and Wilkinson's performance is especially moving.  Their characters' anguish is so palpable, we often feel as if we are intruding on a private moment.

In The Bedroom tells its story as much by using silence as it does the spoken word.  It's a great film with powerful performances.

In the Bedroom

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