In the Bedroom
Todd Field is rapidly becoming, for me at least, one of the most exciting directing talents making movies today. His 2006 hit Little Children gives me goosebumps every time I watch it. In the Bedroom was released in 2001 to wide, critical acclaim, and for good reason.
The story centers around lovers Frank (Nick Stahl) and Natalie (Marisa Tomei) and Frank’s parents Matt (Tom Wilkinson) Ruth (Sissy Spacek). Frank is a successful college student, living with his parents during summer break. He becomes involved with Natalie, the damaged-goods mother of two with serious baggage in the form of Richard (William Mapother), the ex-husband with anger issues. While Matt and Ruth disapprove of the relationship because of the children involved, the age difference, and the threat Natalie poses to Frank’s education, they enjoy her company, and embrace her and her children into their family.
The story takes a turn for the worse, when altercation between Frank and Richard results in Frank’s death. To make matters worse, incontinuity in Natalie’s statements to the police will probably result in an extremely short sentence for Richard.
In a lesser film, these events would be the climax and the conclusion of the film. However, Field (thank your deity of choice that he moved beyond small, supporting roles in Tom Cruise movies) only uses them as a jumping off point, allowing the viewer to watch the characters break, evolve. It’s the characters that drive this heartbreaking plot, and it’s gripping all the way. In the Bedroom features landmark performances by Spacek and Wilkinson. Oscar was a damn fool for ignoring them in favor of Adrien Brody and Nicole Kidman (damn it Oscar, when will you get your shit together?).
SPOILER ALERT – Read no further if you don’t want to know the ending.
The film fell under fire for being what appeared to be a moralistic tale of vigilante justice. Well there’s a literal truth to that statement, those that feel that away about the film missed the point. Field doesn’t allow the viewer to feel satisfaction, or moral superiority as revenge is carried out (if he had allowed this, it would have been as bad as Jody Foster’s The Brave One). In the Bedroom is the story of normal people being pushed beyond their limits because of extraordinary circumstances, and cracking under the pressure. It’s one terrific tragedy.
Sorry about the French subtitles.