One of the most talked about movies of the year, and also one of the most unnoticed movies of the year is In the Bedroom, a somber yet mesmerizing drama set in a small town in Maine.
Tom Wilkinson stars as the husband of a choir leader (Sissy Spacek) and the father of a college boy who is having a summer fling with an older woman (Marisa Tomei) who is separated from her husband. Though the son's future is clouded as he is torn between his career and his love affair with the woman, Wilkinson is supportive and charismatic... that is until something really bad happens, and everything changes. Life goes from heaven to hell in an instant and Wilkinson and Spacek are forced to deal with it, in whatever ways they can. All said, In the Bedroom is a movie that gets increasing darker as it goes along, and gets to the point where things are pitch black.
Going into In the Bedroom, I really didn't know what to expect. I knew the basic outline of the story, but I didn't know of certain major turns the movie takes to make it as effective as it is. I am sure a good deal of people know what the real plot of the movie is, but for those who don't, I'll keep it a surprise, because not knowing makes it all the more suspenseful.
The script is wonderful, but brought to life by the actors. Wilkinson is excellent, delivering the complete range of motions in the course of a little over two hours. From beginning to end we get to see the transformation of a generally good man to something quite other. Along with Wilkinson, Spacek has also garnered an Oscar nomination for her performance in this movie. She turns in her best performance in years (not like she's been in many things in recent years, though), although I would have placed in her in the Best Supporting Actress category. She has a powerful role, but doesn't have a whole lot of screen time. Another delight is Tomei, who is making a good comeback through films like What Women Want. She is also very convincing, although it would have been nice to see her character a little more in the last half of the film.
The only thing that hurts In the Bedroom is that it relies so heavily on the emotions and depression of the main characters that it forgets to pace itself. The direction in the film is extraordinary - there are several scenes where there is no dialogue, but you can read things from the characters' faces or movements - but the middle of the film drags on. The director needed to be a little more strict on what he left in the final cut; the audience quickly understands the depression of the characters, so fifteen minutes could have been removed without losing too much.
However, what makes up for any slowness is the last twenty minutes. Throughout the film the conclusion is eluded to, but only very slightly. You really don't know what is going to happen, and that is what makes it so tense.
In the Bedroom is a shocking and extraordinary film about what parents will do when their family is damaged. It is a dark yet vivid tale of ordinary citizens driven to extreme measures, and despite some slowness here and there, has created an Oscar-worthy film.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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