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perhaps not my favorite film but a perfect one.
vabalos21 February 2004
A dark story told with amazing weight and balance, it is cinematically perfect. Aside from the excellent performances by Wilkinson, Spacek and Tomei, it is

Field's film. He uses a deft touch to examine the lives of a couple devastated by loss. The perfection of this film lies in the small touches, the subtle gestures, the powerful symbolism that Field displays throughout. Even the most powerful

moment, the shooting, is done off camera. It isn't so much what you see, its what you don't, what Field implies throughout the film. He creates moments in this movie that convey complex emotion through subtle actions. The film creates

unsettling scenes without being disturbing. Reflections of actors moving as if underwater through their lives, we see them caught in the windows of their

home, ghosts in their house and in their lives, struggling to cope until the film's resolution. Attempting to heal each other and themselves through a single act of redemption that seems at the same time surprising and inevitable. It isn't my favorite movie, but i still think it's as close to a perfect film i've seen.
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A Refreshingly Masterful Work of Art
MWood9198 May 2004
Warning: Spoilers
`In The Bedroom' is a beautiful film, brilliantly paced, slow but steady, climaxing with Sissy Spacek's smashing of a plate on the kitchen floor, then rolling heavily into the intensity of the inevitable but shocking conclusion.

Spacek's character describes the torture of the emotional rollercoaster she feels after the murder of her son: "It comes in waves, and then nothing... like a rest in music - no sound, but so loud." Thusly she describes director Todd Field's unique story-telling style. Much of his film seems to take place in that musical rest.

The first and last acts are vaguely sprinkled with a hauntingly beautiful score by Thomas Newman. But the center and longest act is void of score, leaving us to grapple with the non-cinematic, chillingly real emotions that these characters seem to be sharing directly with (or hiding distinctly from) the viewer.

Cinematically speaking, the story is like an extremely well-crafted painting where the smallest, seemingly insignificant details are made noticeable in a device used by Field to allow us to peer deeper into the emotions set within the scene or shot - not merely at the shot itself.

Unanswered questions and vague silences, which would never work in a more contrived picture, speak volumes here, adding shape and depth to the overall story. And while some might see this film as morality play boosting corporal punishment and an "eye for an eye" mentality, ultimately it plays more as a story that tugs at the heartstrings and plays on one's fears purely for the sake of entertainment. As much as one could look for moral opinions in Shakespeare's "Hamlet", we moreover come away with an epic story told through masterful techniques - just as easily as with `In The Bedroom'.

"In The Bedroom" is not a Hollywood action-flick. This is not a summer-sizzle-fest or anything fitting of such tacky terminology. This is a perfect example of modern Film-as-Art, a classically crafted story told by modestly stylized means, and it's good to see such quality work emerging in this era so saturated with cinematic cliché.

Although quite unique, the film did bring to mind several other films that seem to compliment its style and mood: Todd Haynes' "Far From Heaven", Udayan Prasad's "My Son The Fanatic", and Robert Redford's "Ordinary People". All are films that explore the dynamics of extreme challenge and change in the lives of thoroughly defined characters. `In The Bedroom', however, seems to stand out in this company as the example of a masterpiece.

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Delivers what Movies are meant to deliver.
pdvincit26 August 2008
I have friends who do not want to see dark movies. Too depressing, given the news these days. I can understand that.

But farce grows quite tiresome. Clever repartee is fine sometimes. Action films are frequently exhausting and you can only watch so many cars, trains, planes and buildings explode. Plus, you are hungry an hour later.

This movie is a rare opportunity to miss excessive violence, pratfalls and smart-mouthed kids, teenage titillation, explosions, chases, stock characters, overacting and thin plot contrivances.

Enjoy a movie where the characters are complex, the actors spot-on in their craft, and the story is compelling.

Or don't. "Independence Day" is probably on cable somewhere.
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Not a False Moment to Be Found. Stunning.
rddj052 November 2008
Every once in awhile, a filmmaker comes along and adds a pitch-perfect sensibility to a compelling story, well-written script, and perfect cast. This has happened with In the Bedroom. Though I saw, and enjoyed, director Todd Field's 2nd feature, Little Children, when it came out a few years back, I was truly astounded by In the Bedroom.

At a time when Americans' tastes in films are getting more and more juvenile, In the Bedroom is that rare film; one aimed adults. The characters and story line is compelling, the shots kept simple, yet beautiful, and the feel of the film is as real as most you will see. In the Bedroom would fit in perfectly with the some of the films from golden age of the 70s film-making. Unfortunately, we are seeing this less and less of those types of films these days.

It is hard to find a false moment, whether in dialogue or behavior, in this film. It deals with circumstances that we hear about every day, yet is no less captivating because of it. We are not clobbered over the head with the moments we are meant to feel deeply, yet they are apparent and often devastating to watch. There is an old saying, "you know the truth when you see it", and that certainly applies to this film. There was a knot in my stomach the entire first 30 minutes of the film, as director Field slowly builds to something you know is inevitable, and almost can't bare to watch.

Excellent performances turned in by Spacek, Wilkinson, Tomei, as well as all the supporting players. Proof, once again, that actors often make some of the finest directors.
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Revenge shown to be illusion in this realistic work.
Erick-1218 November 2003
The film is, as all the critics say, emotionally involving, wrenching and all that. Acting is natural and realistic, down to the nitty-gritty. The valuable and rare thing here is that the story works against the most common plot at the movies today: the revenge plot. Here instead, revenge gets a more ambiguous and thoughtful treatment. We are accustomed to being flattered as an audience, sent home feeling good that "our" side wins in the end against the evil. In this film that stereotypical and simplistic Good vs Evil is taken apart. The revenge leaves us feeling unusually unsettled, which is a very good thing in a deeper sense.
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something's going on in the bedroom
Evil_Will_Hunting10 December 2002
9 out of 10

Watching Todd Field's feature film debut `In the Bedroom,' I could not help but be impressed by the sheer audacity of the film, by the spot-on performances, and by the many twists and turns that no critic should reveal. Yet amidst all the film's obvious strengths, there was still something missing-something to tie it all together, something to endow the film with more than just a fleeting impression.

Ironically perhaps, I was provided this missing bit of information not by the film, but by a male audience member sitting at the end of my aisle, trying to explain the point of the film in less than derogatory terms to his female companion.

`You're missing the whole point of the film,' he said. `It was all about men being controlled by women.'

No doubt he read this interpretation from someone else's review of the film (and what a sweet piece of justice it would be if that critic were a woman). It is quite possible that he was not even aware of the ramifications of what he had said. But this man's legitimacy aside, his statement has not left me since, and the film in turn has had the same luck in escaping me.

We are first introduced to Frank Fowler (Nick Stahl, `Bully') and Natalie Strout (Marisa Tomei, `My Cousin Vinny'), he a young college student with no immediate plans to settle down, she an older divorcee raising two children. They are in love, though for Frank she is little more than a `summer fling.' Meanwhile Natalie's ex-husband, Richard (William Mapother, `Mission: Impossible 2'), is unwilling to let her out of his life, and begins to be physically abusive to Frank. Frank's parents, Matt (Tom Wilkinson, `The Full Monty') and Ruth (Sissy Spacek, `The Straight Story')-both in top form here-show appropriate concern for their only son, and they intervene in this dangerous love triangle with unexpected twists and tragic results.

The film jumps about in tone from a light romantic romp to a seeming political treatise to a creepy, nocturnal thriller. Some have criticized the film for this alleged inconsistency in tone, slow pacing, and a deliberate ending. But these naysayers have overlooked the point.

Frank may not even really love Natalie, so much as he loves being controlled by her and sating his mother by being with her. Richard becomes a threat to everyone because he is unwilling to let Natalie consider him out of her life; he is a slave to her whim. The resulting tension reveals a rift between Frank's parents, and in particular, his father's actions in the end demonstrate a helpless allegiance to his wife and her command.

Field, who up until now has been primarily an actor (he was the piano player in `Eyes Wide Shut'), understands these important points but does not beat the viewer over the head with them. He presents a reality more raw and true than any other piece of film in recent memory. Yet he does so with a restraint that Hollywood seems to have forgotten. Most of the film's violence is overheard or implied, and only explicitly shown when necessary for the audience to completely understand what has happened. This allows for more subtle details, like a bridgekeeper who must run around in circles to alternate traffic between the road and the sea, to emerge as truly haunting, lasting images.

But `In the Bedroom' is not about any of these things. It is, first and foremost, about its characters. It does not fall prey to plot mechanics, nor does it flinch at exploring even the most sympathetic characters' darkest sides. For this and so many other reasons which are best left discussed behind closed doors between loved ones, `In the Bedroom' succeeds at turning the camera on flawed relationships of all forms, and it is one of the best films of the year.
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One of the Most Magnificent Films of the Decade
marcelbrooks21 January 2009
Warning: Spoilers
David Mamet, Eric Bogosian, Alexander Payne, and a million other misanthropic storytellers in film and out are all obsessed with familiar literary conceits regarding the middle-class and their American equivalent in Suburbia. The would-be cultural critics who point their pens and cameras on the American bourgeois insist this glossy sheen covers a subdura of rot and horror. Think of the opening scene in Blue Velvet — the camera leers at a pristine lawnscape before sinking into a layer of munching insects. But satirists, especially weirdoes like Lynch and Todd Solondz, often lack subtlety when brutalizing their subjects. Todd Field has beaten them all by doing the opposite, by pulling us so close to the drama we're blinded with ambivalence. Few films have been more disturbing, more quietly devastating.

Field's debut, In the Bedroom, based on an Andre Dubus short story, applies a scalpel to the internal and external horrors of a Maine seaside hamlet. Dr. Matt Fowler (Tom Wilkinson) and his wife, Ruth (Sissy Spacek), live quiet, relatively happy lives, respected in the community as people a bit better than their present stations. Matt is a family practitioner, a man of gentile affability who yearns for everyone to like him, something a family doctor yields easily; he's generous and naïve to a fault. Ruth is a bit more complicated — a former academic and professor, she's been reduced to pawning her knowledge of Eastern European folk music onto a high school choir, something she probably resents. Theirs is a well-meaning but facile relationship — they've long since stopped telling the truth in favor of being nice to one another. And both are somewhat guilty of projecting casual disappointments onto their son, Frank (Nick Stahl).

Frank is a general success story — a bright young kid possessing the self-effacing affability and good looks impossible not to like. His parents, and indeed the rest of the community, adore him. What Frank lacks in brute masculinity he makes up for in sexual prowess; he's run through a string of girlfriends, but the latest his parents find troubling. Natalie (Marisa Tomei) is a much older, freshly separated (but not divorced) mother of two young sons. Frank is allured by Natalie's beauty and unassuming nature; Natalie is allured by, well, everything Frank is. It's easy to see how the relationship would be mutually flattering, but Natalie is probably Frank's way of rejecting his parents. Ruth thinks the relationship is socially detrimental and will ultimately distract Frank from the architecture school he's poised to leave for at summer's end. Matt is concerned as well, but too proud of his son for romancing a woman he and his friends see fit to ogle. Matt beams with pride, even when his son damns him for marching eagerly in his own father's footsteps.

To complicate matters, Natalie's not-quite-ex-husband, Richard (William Mapother), lurks in the fringes. If Frank is impossible not to love, Richard is impossible not to hate. He's the worst kind of man, whose brute anger and stupidity are matched by a slight physical ugliness, drunk with an entitlement so internalized he can't fathom when others don't give him what he wants. Natalie has left him, but he barges into her home regularly and harangues her for not wanting him, let alone canoodling with a younger man. Richard represents the brute atavism found in lower-class caricatures; he even says at one point: "No, I don't change; everything around me changes." Field hints that class miscegenation is at the heart of this conflict, but only just. Richard's family wields some power and money, but from a decidedly lower social echelon. In any case, it will only end in Frank's blood. And when that end comes, it's more harrowing than any horror film. Field blankets the entire film with dread, with suggestions of violence both emotional and physical. The middle section of the film, wherein Matt and Ruth confront a grief they're incapable of dealing with (who would be?), is as troubling as the actual death. The two can't talk to one another, to console or to blame, as each holds the other responsible for Frank's death; did Ruth push too hard or Matt not enough? Their marriage suppurates under guilt and resentment, and Field doesn't sully the atmosphere with actual words, but lets the emotions play in an understatement that mirrors Bergman or Ozu. Ruth wants to reach out to someone, to express the inexpressible. Matt, like so many men, can't describe what he feels even when he wants to; mostly he tries to pretend nothing has happened. I've never seen a portrait of grief to match In the Bedroom's quiet desperation.

When the words finally arrive, they're screamed and hissed, the tension erupting from its horrible concealment. And maybe the two can forgive one another, but the sheer injustice of their loss gnaws at them, all the worse when it seems Richard will get off on a lenient manslaughter charge. Matt is galvanized with the masculine drive to fix things somehow, to mend his marriage and avenge their wrong at the same time. And with regards to the middle-class expressing the inexpressible, his options narrow to a grim inevitability.

Richard's death, so implicitly yearned-for by character and audience, is nothing to celebrate; it's as horrible and damning as Frank's. Revenge might restore the balance Matt and Ruth yearn for, but the damage it will surely wreak on their humanity is truly disturbing. Field has crafted a vision of bourgeois America of devastating darkness — that lower-class crimes of passion will be met with a savagery borne of cruel calculation: which one is really worse? In the Bedroom is a film of horrifying human truths, executed with patience and skill, and all of it should break your f*cking heart. It is one of the most magnificent films of the decade.
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a real modern classic
JudgeMalone2 January 2004
A rarity in modern cinema, In the Bedroom is a movie for thinking adults that is one of the most thorough yet subtle examinations of violence and its consequences I've ever seen. Tom Wilkerson gives a masterful and restrained performance, and Sissy Spacek and nearly everyone else is uniformly excellent. Although it is a searing and unflinching look at nearly unspeakable grief, it is poignant and thoughtful and even has scenes of humor if you are ready for it. Todd Field's screenplay is one of the most brilliant in recent memory. I really wish we had more mature stuff like this coming out of Hollywood. Powerful films that deal with violence and its aftermath and meaning like this make films like Kill Bill look even more repellent than they already are.
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10/10 attention for Sissy Spacek's name at this year's Oscars...
poetellect9 May 2001
So simple. So honest. So heartbreaking. I dare you to see this movie and not go through a self-invasive, heartfelt understanding for the familial and emotional conflicts these characters go through. one of the best films shown at Sundance, hands down. Not a movie for the emotionally squeamish...brutally powerful... Violent, excruciating truth and beauty...the raw emotional power imbued into the scenes with Wilkinson and Spacek are Oscar-worthy. Marisa Tomei finally gets a role worthy of her talent since My Cousin Vinny. Utterly unforgettable, and a slam-dunk certainty for some kind of oscar, whether screenplay, acting, or directorial.

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A Subtly Brilliant And Restrained Film About Human Nature, Instinct, And Emotion...
leyward12 February 2006
Everything about this film is wonderfully done, from the restrained direction and acting, to the inexorable progression to tragic conclusion following preceding events. All the actors and acting are excellent, with a particularly subtle and brilliant portrayal by Tom Wilkinson as Dr. Fowler. Always great, he is, in my estimation, one of the unsung and underrated actors in film today. Sissy Spacek is also wonderful, and the inevitable emotional fall-out in their relationship after their shared experience is beautifully done. Very human - and very real.

Though difficult to watch, it is a great film, great story, with great performances all around by gifted actors. Not to be unsung are the excellent performances by Marisa Tomei, and all the other supporting actors. A film that would benefit one to watch more than once, there is that much substance there. Worth paying particular notice to is the opening metaphor in the scene on the lobster boat where Tom Wilkinson (Dr. Fowler) explains the nature of how a lobster-trap works - and the name the lobster-men (and tradition) have given to the inner part of the trap. This is the metaphor for the human story that will, tragically, unfold.

A great film, with great work all around. Todd Field is a director to remember.
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A dark drama that will have you glued to the screen
shades03323 January 2002
Sometimes, it's fun to go see a movie without having any expectations, or even having knowledge of the basic plot or premise. It's also nice to see a movie that would usually get ignored in a crowded market get a large amount of attention without having the plot be too obvious from trailers or commercials. Although In the Bedroom has been in theatres for a number of months, it's only recently started getting attention and positive word of mouth after Sissy Spacek's Golden Globe nomination.

Tom Wilkinson plays Dr. Matt Fowler and Sissy Spacek plays his music teacher wife, an older couple living in a small Maine fishing town, who become worried when their only son becomes involved with an older woman with two kids, played by Marisa Tomei. Their worries soon prove to be warranted, as the woman and her estranged husband proceed to destroy the teenager's life. Ultimately, it has a devastating effect on the couple's everyday life and their relationship.

This movie is a fascinating and powerful character study of people in a small town and how conflict and tragedy affect them. It is a story that takes place in three clear-cut acts separated by two twists, both of which take the viewer by surprise although they're both foreshadowed and somewhat expected.

It's hard not to compare this movie to the recently released Monster's Ball, one of my least favorite movies of last year, but it's a fair comparison, since it also showed a series of tragic and sudden events and how they affect the people in a small town. Unlike Monster's Ball, I found the actions and emotions of the characters in this movie to be a lot more plausible, and you can't help feeling the despair of the couple as they deal with their son's problems.

In the Bedroom also compares to last year's The Deep End, and Sam Raimi's underrated A Simple Plan, two other slow movies that dealt with how small town folk deal with problems and how those problems sometimes lead to more drastic actions. It's never clear whether the Fowlers disapprove of their son's relationship is because the woman is older and has two kids or because of the problems that her estranged husband brings to the relationship. At times, it seems like the Fowlers' only worry is that their son may not go to college in order to stick around and take care of his older lover and her kids.

Either way, the parents starts to drift apart due to their overpowering sense of grief and inability to change things, and it's not long before they're playing the blame game on who is responsible for their son's situation. When they finally explode, it's one of the most powerful film moments in recent memory. The shorter third act shows how they learn to cope and deal with their problems.

Despite the slow pace and the excessive length, the performances and the beautiful yet subdued camerawork and choice of setting keeps the viewer riveted to the screen.

It's been far too long since we've seen Sissy Spacek in a movie, and like this year's other comeback kid, Robert Redford, her age is showing. But her age also makes her perfect for the role of Ruth Lawler, as her world -weary eyes seem suitably representative of Ruth's own frustrations.

Like last year's The Deep End and The Others, this movie shows how an over-protective mother can alienate her children while trying to help them. Spacek gives another groundbreaking performance that shows talented yet less experienced actresses Tilda Swinton. Nicole Kidman and especially Halle Berry how to create realistic emotions on screen. Late in the movie, there is a particularly tense yet short confrontation between Spacek and Marisa Tomei that shows how much better these two actresses are.

Tom Wilkinson has played comedic parts in The Full Monty and has appeared in a number of period pieces including Sense and Sensibility and The Patriot. In the Bedroom proves him to be quite a talented dramatic lead actor, as his performance allows him the full range of emotions, and he creates a character as believable and real as Spacek's.

First-time director Todd Field is probably best known as playing Nick Nightingale, the pianist who gets Tom Cruise in a bit of trouble in Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut. Field uses the Maine setting beautifully to create a portrait of the couple's life, and he uses the pacing to create insurmountable tension before driving a wedge between the couple. The script by Field and Robert Festinger is one of the better ones of the year with dialogue that is far too real, yet perfectly suited for talents such as Spacek and Wilkinson.

Obviously, this movie will be getting a good deal of Oscar attention due to the performances by Spacek, Wilkinson, Tomei, and the terrific script. If you want to see action, go see Blackhawk Down; if you want to see the fine form of filmmaking as perfected by two master thespians and a talented new director, than In the Bedroom will have you riveted to the screen. Rating: 9 out of 10
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An acting masterclass
adsdmnel20 March 2006
An exceptional film which emulates the astounding talents of Tom Wilkinson. I thought he was OK in The Full Monty, but he is exceedingly well cast in the role of father who is grieving inside the loss of his only child. Tom acts with intelligence and resounding compassion as a man driven to revenge. The film is delivered and directed with a slow build up of tension towards a shocking and absorbing climax. This film offers great performances from the ensemble of actors and is directed intelligently. It maybe a tragic and slow film but it will leave the audience empathising with the characters rather than sympathising with them. A truly remarkable and contemporary film.
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A Lesson in Acting
Hitchcoc14 October 2009
This movie was so well done, I felt as if I were an outsider, looking through someone's window. Then the tragedy occurs, we were treated to what probably would have happened after a crime of passion, the imprecision of the evidence, the lack of a witness, and the ability of the perpetrator to avoid prosecution. Mostly the movie is about acting. Sissy Spacek is amazing, so tightly wound and in control. Her somewhat passive husband becomes her foil until the fuse is lit. Then it all comes to a head. I can't imagine living through something like this where your allies become so worthless. There is a scene where the prosecuting attorney jingles his change and looks at his watch while spouting a bunch of meaningless jargon about justice. The father goes catatonic while this is happening. Things play out like they do in life; there are no winners and no losers.
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chris from KC21 January 2002
Warning: Spoilers
Note - details about the movie that could be considered spoilers.

I have to say I did not enjoy this movie. I generally like every movie I see - some more than others - but this was just so dreadfully boring. Every review I heard or read talked about how controlling the Sissy Spacek character is and how she is trying to keep her son away from his girlfriend. I don't know what they saw, but if you are hosting a b-day party in your backyard for your son's girlfriend's son and attending soccer games, I do not think you are trying to keep him away from her too much. Yes, she made comments here and there and subtly tried to get him away from her, but I in no way saw her as "controlling". The guy did what he wanted.

Once the poor guy died, the movie died right along with him. Marissa Tomei needed to be in it more. What did Sissy Spacek do that was so groundbreaking? I say "bravo" to her smoking, sleeping and sitting on the couch & watching tv skills. She also played the silent-type quite well. She finally yelled once and broke a bowl. I did not find anything she did award-winning. I think I could have played her role - practically anyone could have! If anyone deserved a nomination (not a win) it was Tom Wilkinson.

And lastly, the big "shock" of the movie. Who didn't see the 2nd murder coming a mile away? I kept thinking "this can't be the big shock of the movie, there has to be something more". I was expecting the Sissy Spacek character to have committed suicide when her husband returned home from doing his deed. Then, when she went downstairs, I thought maybe he would have committed suicide. This was called "In The Bedroom" wasn't it???? Shouldn't something shocking happen there? How often were they ever in the bedroom? Hardly at all and when they were, nothing happened. Sissy puffed on her cigarette as she sewed and they boringly, briefly talked.

This was by far one of the worst movies I've seen and I can't believe all the hoopla over it. What a joke!!
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Truly Stunning!
aisleseatconfirmed3 September 2008
Todd Field's IN THE BEDROOM is an artistic and realistic portrait of domestic trouble in small-town America. Sissy Spacek and Tom Wilkinson star as Ruth and Matt Fowler, the parents of a recent high school graduate, Frank (Nick Stahl), who has an affair with a married woman, Natalie (Marisa Tomei). A tragic event near the beginning of the film seems to stunt its action and dialogue, allowing the film to change into a largely visual piece based on memories, feelings, and silent communication; while the film's slow-moving camera, soft sunny lighting, and cautious pacing give it a resonating intensity.

Set in coastal Maine, the Fowlers are a well-liked family with simple, straightforward values. Dr. Fowler has his own small medical practice. Mrs. Fowler directs the chorus at the high school. Frank is a good kid who is working on the fishing docks for the summer, waiting for college in the fall. Frank falls into a summer romance with Natalie, an older woman with two young sons and a creepy, lurking husband (William Mapother) from whom she is separated. The relationship is worrisome to Mr. and Mrs. Fowler, but they want to be supportive of their son so they gently nudge him to think about the bigger picture, without being overbearing. But when the unthinkable happens, Mr. and Mrs. Fowler come face to face with their worst nightmare. Quietly, calmly, and with the most logic they can muster, they begin a dark and dangerous psychological journey. The result, reinforced by stunning performances from Wilkinson and Spacek, is a pensive, penetrating, and utterly believable story.
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An Amazing Gift
greysharbor30 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
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. Director Todd Field, who adapted the film from a story by Andre Dubus, 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 one of the Best American dramas to grace the new millennium so far
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Wanted to like the movie... couldn't.
charlb20025 October 2002
I wanted to like this movie. But I didn't. That about sums it up. The movie follows a plot, and beats it to death by showing us several hundred shots of Tom Wilkinson and Sissy Spacek in grievance. It's not that these two wonderful actors (although I liked Wilkinson, and not so much Spacek) don't have reason to be upset, but I wish I hadn't been forced to watch several hundred fragmented scenes that were all only about fifteen seconds long. After a certain number of shots of sad faces, I was not sorry for them anymore and became upset that the plot wasn't going anywhere. Then it did, spinning in a direction and ending in a climax that seemed totally unmotivated and unreal. (Note: When Matt Fowler comes into the bedroom the final time, I totally predicted Ruth's line to the word... because I had been thinking, "I would be so mad if she said this..." and then she did. Crazy.) There were maybe three really exciting scenes, one in which the wonderful but under-utilized Marisa Tomei (whose accent may or may not have been a bit unsettled... are you British or southern?) got to act really hard. The rest of the movie was virtually silent, with a lot of shots of wheat-colored New England. Besides being dull to look at and hear, it was dull to watch. With the exception of Wilkinson, whose acting was amazing but character suffered, the cast (for which I had had such high hopes -- hello! Sissy Spacek!) was weak. I'm glad I saw it, but I didn't like it. Too bad, I guess. Rent it if you want, you should always make your own judgments about movies... this could possibly be your favorite movie. Don't let me stop you. :)
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CBS Sunday Night Movie of the Week *SPOILER*
dholipha11 July 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Dead script, Spacek is convincing but where's the focus? The emotions are predictable. It seems at times that director Field is trying to be *clever* with the camera, to what end? There is no core to this movie, it might as well continue wandering along from one scene to the next, why end the movie where it does? Revenge is boring and obvious. If someone had the nerve to recite a poem to me after a plea for emotional support I'd throw my cards down on the table and walk out of the room, I almost stopped the DVD right there it was so unbearable. "Do you have any Tabasco sauce?" Not believable. Why all the focus on the son when he dies 30 minutes into the film? Why the conflict with the son leaving after the summer and abandoning the children if we don't hear anything about the children after he dies? Why focus on their love, or his architecture!? if the movie is really about the parents' grieving, I mean revenge, I mean government bureaucracy, I mean small town life, I mean domestic violence...or is it childhood attachment? "But it's about all of these things." Precisely, and because of that it's about nothing, it leaves you empty. I know I'm angry but I think I have a right to be, there are movies that really change something in you when you see them because they're thoughtful. I've never written a review for a movie before but this time I felt I had to, given the critical acclaim.
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Slow....very, very slow.....and unpleasant....but exceptional.
MartinHafer3 November 2013
"In the Bedroom" is a rather unpleasant and very slow film. I guarantee that many folks will not want to watch this film or will give up partway through it. This is because although the movie is exceptionally well made, it's also incredibly sad and its pace is like lead. Now this isn't really a complaint--just some reasonable observations about the film. So, keep this in mind before you decide to watch.

The film begins with a relationship that seems rather irrational and doomed. A married woman with children is getting a divorce. In the meantime, she's having a relationship with a young man who appears to be about 18 or perhaps 19. The woman (Marissa Tomei) is significantly older and the young man is supposed to be going off to college--and his mother (Sissy Spacek) naturally wants the young man to focus on school and not this still-married woman. Soon, the estranged husband returns and begins pressuring the wife to take him back--and he becomes very violent. The wife and the boyfriend are morons--they don't go to the police and the husband's behavior escalates until he murders the young man. All this occurs in the first third of the movie and the rest of the film consists of showing the parents (Spacek and Tom Wilkenson) dealing with their grief. Neither really talks about it and they internalize their pain and become distant from one another. However, rather unexpectedly, the movie takes a very drastic and violent turn at the end--one that is quite satisfying to see but which also is difficult to watch.

It's important to point this out, the portrayals of the parents coping with their grief is incredibly well done and realistic. But who wants to see this? Not most folks. In many ways it reminded me of "Rabbit Hole"--another amazingly well acted film about parental grief that is brilliant but difficult to watch. And, since most folks don't want to be THIS depressed, they're movies you should think twice about before you watch. Exceptional....and unpleasant.
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A literate film, but a disappointment nevertheless
richards105219 February 2002
Warning: Spoilers
First, let it be said that this field is superior to 90% of what emanates fr. Hollywood these days. It is literate, with intelligent, thoughtful characters. Cinematography of the Maine coast is gorgeous.

However, the plot of this film which takes a terribly tragic direction could have been warmly emotional & far more engaging. If you haven't yet seen the movie, pls. stop reading here.

After the son's death, the parent's could have developed a supportive relationship w. Marisa Tomei's character & her two sons. After all, I feel that Marisa Tomei & the son's (her lover's) character are far more engaging & hopeful than Spacek & Wilkinson's as the parents. Instead, the parents take an astringent & unforgiving direction, making the film excruciatingly spare. Neither provides us anything, by the film's conclusion, which allows us to sympathize w. them. And their decisions at the film's ending (to kill their son's murderer) are so extreme & bizarre as to be off putting. I found them both to be uninvolving characters ultimately making the film uninvolving as well.

After reading the NY Times rave review I really wanted (& expected) to like this film. But I really did not like it at all.
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When Tragedy Strikes.....Chaos Strikes.
tfrizzell22 May 2002
First-time director Todd Field's "In the Bedroom" is a dark and disturbing film which is both a joy and a trial to sit through. Recent high school graduate Nick Stahl is having a little bit of fun during his last summer of freedom. He is seeing Marisa Tomei (Oscar-nominated), a woman twice his age who has young children and is separated from her shady husband (William Mapother in an appropriately chilly performance). Mother and music teacher Sissy Spacek (Oscar-nominated) worries about the relationship while father and town doctor Tom Wilkinson (also Oscar-nominated) shrugs off the partnership as a simple summer fling. When tragedy strikes, the simple life in Camden, Maine turns into chaos for all involved. "In the Bedroom" is one of the roughest films I have ever watched. It is a movie that is thought-provoking in the fact that everything seems so normal and yet darkness looms overhead for the primary characters in the film. The fact that the film takes place in rural Maine just makes it that much more scary. When one thinks of situations from the movie occurring, few think of a place like Maine. Much like "Fargo", "In the Bedroom" shows that bad elements are everywhere, even in the most unlikely of places. However, be warned that "In the Bedroom" does not go for the black humor that "Fargo" went for. This is a film that will chill you to the bone. It is a must-see and easily one of the top five or ten films of 2001. 5 stars out of 5.
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Realistic, however slow
casperj_1723 March 2002
Warning: Spoilers
This has got to be the most given-away movie ever, however, be forewarned, the following comments may give some of this movie away. (SPOILER) Although very well acted, this movie is much too slow, & not as compelling as it could have, or really should have been. The 3 Oscar nominees are brilliant in their performances, however, are not really given the chance to shine in their roles. The one thing that was truely exceptional, were the realistic potrayals of Marisa Tomei, Sissy Spacek, & Tom Wilkinson. When tragedy befalls Tomei's character, you almost can't help but feel her loss & angst that lies infront of her. Her brief encounter w/ Spacek after the tragedy is another well acted scene, & also the last one for Tomei, who didn't get enough screen time at all. Showing more of her grief & sadness (which she did so well), would've helped add more drama to the movie. Spacek & Wilkinson as grieving parents, like Tomei, are very believable & very exceptional in some scenes. Watching Spacek in her rage makes the viewer almost angry w/ her as she is tormented from her loss. Tom Wilkinson in the scene where he is subtlely crying in his son's bedroom, is so beyond realistic, it is frightening. Both actors make you feel as if you are actually watching a true life story about a young life so tragically taken. The only scene that was particularily disappointing was when the parents are fighting about who is to blame for what happend. Although the acting is not unsufficient, it is much too weak & not nearly as riveting as some of the previous scenes. As the movie winds down to the conclusion, it starts to drag. The very last scene is somewhat confusing, although understanding to a certain effect. This is a mediocre movie that will stop & make you think, although if it wasn't for the acting, it would not be a film that I would reccomend at all.
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Another look at "In the Bedroom"
bobmartinrocks27 June 2008
I really liked "In the Bedroom" the first time I saw it. It's a movie with a monster who does not look like a monster. I recently watched the ending and appreciated the craft of the entire crew, especially the director in the choices he made. For me the movie is not about the crimes committed or who are your friends when times are bad, rather it's about that little monster that we have inside of us that when given the chance will choose for us to be and do unthinkable things.

There are a lot movies that I've seen that never warrant a second look, much less a third or fourth. That's because the director has played all of his/her cards right up front. Once you seen the movie once there is nothing else to see. With "In the Bedroom" I noticed the quiet, there was no constant music theme interrupting my thoughts. I noticed the performances of Wilkinson, Spacek and Marisa Tomei.. The Tomei role intrigued me. I remembered her best as Lisa Bonet cocky room mate in the first season of TV sitcom "A Different World". I noticed the crabs and the town, how there seemed be no diversity.

My second look, had me pay closer attention to monster, played with perfection by Sissy Spacek. Even in her mid fifties Sissy Spacek is cute and we all had cute monsters in our life. Monsters are things that a far more relentless then we are. Monsters get what they want, with out ever compromising. They are unreasonable, like Javier Bardem in "No Country for Old Men" or Daniel Day-Lewis, in "There Will Be Blood". Movies where the monster wins leaves the audience dissatisfied, but will to go back and take another look. My most recent look got me paying attention to the scenery, how beautiful old towns, bay views, dense forest and sea ports are. That no matter how beautiful nature is, it is relentless and will get its way.
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Quality drama goes in unexpected directions
bandw3 February 2007
Warning: Spoilers
The opening scene of two young lovers frolicking in a field sets an idyllic tone that evolves to tragic death by the end of the first act. Unexpected changes of course typify the story.

In the first act we meet the players. The lovers are Frank Fowler and Natalie Strout. Natalie is separated from her abusive husband and has two young boys; Frank is the son of Matt and Ruth Fowler. The Fowlers live in a small Maine town where Matt is a medical doctor and Ruth is a Brown graduate with an interest in Eastern European folk songs. The basic tension between the two cultures of Natalie and Richard versus the Fowlers is developed quickly, but with depth - we feel that we know these people and what they are thinking about each other. The class conflicts are not of wealth but of lifestyle. Natalie's husband Richard is the son of a well-to-do lobster fishing magnate, but he is a crude bully. Between raising her kids and dealing with Richard, Natalie has had a difficult life. On the other hand Dr. Fowler plays in poker games where it is not unusual for someone to spontaneously quote from poems of Blake and Longfellow. Ruth reads books on the Wyeths (in fact the opening scene is so reminiscent of Andrew Wyeth's painting "Christina's World" that some of director Field's imagery must have been inspired by Wyeth). Frank is going to an upper class school with a talent and passion for architecture. In one telling scene he is expressing his appreciation for a particular home design to Natalie and her reaction clearly indicates that she has not often been around people with intellectual passions.

The second act deals with the effects of Frank's death and you get about as detailed a look at the consequences of tragedy on a marriage as you are likely to see. The movie title is apt, it's as if we were allowed into a bedroom where intimate matters are discussed that no one will ever know but those in that room. We come to know the secrets of Matt and Ruth in such a personal way that we are almost embarrassed by our being such willing voyeurs. Never has grief been so acutely portrayed and it will be the unusual person who is not gripped by it. Grief gives way to anger - anger at the cause of the death and anger at a justice system that moves at a snail's pace and places a heavy onus on the plaintiff to prove something in a court of law.

The third act concerns an act of vigilantism on the part of Dr. Fowler. This seems out of character on his part until the brief final scene makes you realize that he is more motivated by marital considerations than by revenge. This movie is about a marriage, not about revenge.

The acting is thoroughly convincing. The three main actors - Tom Wilkinson, Sissy Spacek, and Marisa Tomei - received well-deserved Oscar nominations. The entire cast is first rate. From the moment that Richard (William Mapother) comes on the scene he projects a foreboding presence.

The screenplay is tight and insightful. For example, when Ruth is describing her feelings of grief to her minister, she says, "It comes in waves, and then nothing. Like a rest in music. No sound, but so loud." This comment could be applied to the movie itself. Particularly effectively portrayed is how, in the throes of a personal crisis, day-to-day life seems so insignificant and meaningless.

A final thought I had about this movie is how we have come to expect and accept quality cinematography. There is nothing special about the filming here, it's just extremely well done - the climatic scene between Ruth and Matt, as they move from room to room, is particularly impressive. This is an example of your not tending to notice things when they are done well, but only when not.

This story is simple in its telling but complex in its themes. It engaged me from beginning to end.
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**Possible Spoilers Ahead** Excellent - Works at Every Level
cn91749 December 2003
Warning: Spoilers
"In the Bedroom" was one of those films that I heard about but never saw, because of the misleading title. I watched it for the first time last night and am glad I did. A fantastic cast, wonderful performances, and solid direction.

Wilkinson and Spacek play a normal New England couple whose world is almost destroyed when their college-age son is murdered by the ex-husband of his older girlfriend (Tomei). When it appears that our legal system is unable to do the right thing, Wilkinson and his best friend take things into their own hand and eventually do what justice cannot.

I was totally sucked into this film and cannot even remember if it had a musical score. While it dragged a little in the middle, maybe this was necessary to set up the audience for the inevitable, and violent ending. Director Todd Field accomplished more in one steady shot than most directors do in whole scenes, like when he centered the camera on the license plate of Wilkinson's Saab as he observed his son's killer at his place of work. The bottom of the plate had one word; "Veteran;" This told the audience several things - that Wilkinson probably knew how to handle weapons, that he may have been in combat, or at a minimum, that he was trained how to kill by the military. This same fact was also established for Wilkinson's partner in crime as the camera panned across numerous photos of him obviously taken during the Vietnam War.

I also liked the part when Wilkinson abducted the killer and forced him to turn on a baseball game on the radio, as opposed to having to converse with the man he knows murdered his only son. Not only did it eliminate the need for conversation in the car (as he guided the killer to his own death), but it showed that Wilkinson did not want to relate to the murderer; that he wanted the man to remain an object,as opposed to a human being - this, probably making it easier to kill him in the end.

While it's a matter of opinion as to whether or not Wilkinson was justified in murdering his son's killer, the film expertly shows the trauma experienced by the family of murder victims and how normal law abiding citizens can be forced to take matters into their own hands and do what needs to be done, even if it involves breaking the law.
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