By Nicole Kobie
Go see In the Bedroom. Now. No, put down this paper (actually, fold it up and save it if only for the ticket line) and go see it. Don’t read anymore about In the Bedroom. The less you know, the less you’ve read and the less you’ve heard, the better.
With that said, In the Bedroom is breathtaking. The story, the scenes and the characters are as brutal on the emotions as a surprise kick is to the stomach. There are no special effects, no witty one-liners and no expensive sets, costumes or actors-the stun comes from subtlety. Key scenes show less than they could, making the violence they depict all the more painful. Director Todd Field practises the less-is-more philosophy throughout the film, producing a sense of realism unseen in other character films.
The story is a simple one about revenge and grief and reality. Nick Stahl plays Frank, the son of Ruth (Sissy Spacek) and Matt (Tom Wilkinson). He seems like an average 20-year-old at first, but it takes only a few scenes for his charm to show. While he’s no pretty-boy, Frank is no average kid, either-everyone falls in love with him instantly. Natalie Strout (Marisa Tomei) has already fallen for him, as have her two young children. Her estranged husband (Richard Mapother) isn’t quite so happy for them.
Frank’s parents, though not pleased about their son loving an older, married woman, are supportive. They argue but Matt and Ruth have a strong marriage-they obviously love and respect one another. Matt isn’t the usual Hollywood man. Instead, he’s a good father and loving husband who skips work to lunch with his son and will do anything for his wife.
Their relative happiness makes the events that occur so much harsher. The family starts to fracture and accusations begin to fly. Sitting in the theatre, it’s hard not to react when Ruth accuses Matt of envying Frank’s active sex life, and in response, he calls her an "unforgiving bitch." They seemed happy together, so how do they eventually say such hateful things?
Tensions and emotions build up so much that something breaks-something has to happen in the end. Sadly, the last sequence in the film holds the weakest parts. The tone is off and it seems out of place, until Field brings it back with one shot of Matt’s face as he lies in bed. It’s the perfect ending-his actions and the rage in his face have enough potential for an entirely different, emotional movie. Thankfully, it stops there-if the In the Bedroom continued any longer, it would have been nothing short of exhausting.
So go see In the Bedroom. Now. See it before the Oscars. If
the good folks at the Academy Awards go crazy and give the Best Picture and Best Actor awards to anyone else, you’ll fully understand why I’m so mad.