IN THE BEDROOM is a fine movie, an engrossing story full
of wonderful performances. In fact, this may well be the best
movie Ive ever slapped Not Recommended on.
Its just too sad.
Every moment of IN THE BEDROOM rings true, which is the problem.
This deeply disturbing story is an extremely effective tear-jerker.
Well done, Field & Co., but unfortunately, I dont
want this from a movie. I was definitely the wrong audience
for this; furthermore, Im having a hard time imagining
the right audience for this emotional vivisection, which opens
onwould you believe it?Christmas Day. Its
not that I dont care for movies that deal with your
deeper issues. Im a huge ORDINARY PEOPLE fan, and IN
THE BEDROOM definitely plumbs ORDINARY PEOPLE territory.
Ruth (Spacek) and Matt (Wilkinson) Fowler have lived their
lives and brought up Frank, their only child, in Camden, Maine.
The movie opens with a scene of production-line porn that
illustrates the relationship between the communitys
financial well-being and the Strout canneries. I dont
think its giving too much away to say that the romance
between Frank Fowler (Stahl) and Natalie (Tomei), a young
mom soon to be divorced from Richard Strout (Mapother; Tom
Cruises cousin), leads to sudden violence thats
all the more shocking for its mundanity. If youve seen
a trailer or read anything at all about this movie, you know.
I knew, and I spent the first 30 or 40 minutes of this movie
sitting in gnawing anxiety and dread, wishing in vain for
something to come and spare all these ordinary good people.
What do you do with your grief? How come your hometown looks
like it did yesterday when nothing is the same? Is it still
home when <I>youre</I> not the same? Like
ORDINARY PEOPLE, this story deals in emotions sublimated and
repressed. But ultimately the brave masks fall and the parents
in IN THE BEDROOM are stripped bare by their grief, harrowing
the viewer not so much with their tears as with the faces
they wear as they go through the motions of life.
There are some smart choices in this movie. I was especially
thankful that it was mostly unscored, and that, mostly, scoring
wasnt needed. With Spacek and Wilkinson on screen theres
no need for celloes to underscore the moment. They are both
simply wonderful as a couple whose contented marriage, apparently
based on good-humored habit and love for their son, has more
depth of feeling than it initially seems. What music we do
getfrom the Balkan Girls Choir that Ruth directsis
great, dirge-like, Eastern European folksong that complements
the mood perfectly. Mapothers pissed-off husband is
just the sort of real-life asshole you can believe, avoiding
a performance of outright villainy and delivering instead,
evil in all its banality.
Saying IN THE BEDROOM is very, very sad sounds as stupidly
inadequate as McCartneys infamous Its a
drag, innit? quote about John Lennons murder,
but there you have it. If you want to be desperately sad and
disturbed for Christmas, thats your own damn business.