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In the Bedroom

Starring: Tom Wilkinson, Sissy Spacek
Director: Todd Field
Genre: Drama
Year: 2001
Rating: 4 / 5

In the Bedroom is an engrossing character study chronicling the effect a sudden tragedy has on a small town family. Director Todd Field helms this award-winning tale of a middle-aged couple's struggle to cope with despair, yet stars Tom Wilkinson and Sissy Spacek truly propel this film. These two veteran actors are captivating personas, conveying a full range of emotions with glances, sighs, and simple expressions. They allow the film's message to be carried through long periods of silence, as we are left to witness pain and suffering in the faces of the two leads. Along with Field, these two manage to make In the Bedroom the sort of intelligent film older filmgoers yearn for.

Frank Fowler (Nick Stahl) is planning to head off to college in the fall, much to the delight of his parents, Matt (Tom Wilkinson) and Ruth (Sissy Spacek). For his final summer "fling," Frank has latched onto thirty-something neighbor Natalie (Marisa Tomei), a soon-to-be-divorced mother of two. While Matt is perfectly willing to write off Frank's romance as a passing fancy, Ruth is concerned that Natalie might not be good for Frank's future. She wonders how Natalie and the kids will react in the fall, when Frank leaves to pursue his bright future. In addition, she wonders about Natalie's estranged husband, what with the divorce not yet official and the man's well-known temper.

Matt and Ruth have provided themselves and Frank with a comfortable life in the small town of Camden, Maine. Matt has a successful local practice, and the two seem to have immersed themselves in the community. Their world is picture-perfect, until, that is, tragedy befalls Frank. With their world torn asunder, Matt and Ruth are left to piece together their fragmented lives. Left with nothing but each other, they begin assessing each other's role in the tragedy and watching as their marriage is strained to the breaking point. Their common cause is a quest of justice, as we pull for these two lost souls to find closure and, finally, peace.

In the Bedroom is not an easy film to watch, as it can be emotionally taxing and heartbreaking. Our guides, though, make the journey one worth taking. Both Tom Wilkinson (The Full Monty) and Sissy Spacek have been recognized by the Academy for their sterling performances, as the second half of the film features some chilling confrontations between the two. Wilkinson more than holds his own with his oft-decorated co-star, seething with rage and sadness beneath the veneer of quiet calm. Director Todd Field should be commended for allowing his two worthy stars to steer this movie throughout, knowing that their emotions are throbbing at the film's core. In this film, it takes a tragedy of unrivalled magnitude to bring forth the emotions that are buried In the Bedroom.


Tom Wilkinson..........Matt Fowler
Sissy Spacek..........Ruth Fowler
Marisa Tomei..........Natalie Strout
Nick Stahl..........Frank Fowler

Certification: Rated R for violence and language.
Running Time: 130 minutes.

Additional Info: Internet Movie Database
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