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In The Bedroom

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I saw this movie last night for the first time. It was by accident really. It was on ‘Encore’ and since it had received such rave reviews, I decided to watch. It also received at least four Oscar nominations. One for Sissy Spacek for Best Actress, Tom Wilkinson for Best Actor, Marisa Tomei for Best Supporting Actress and Best Picture.

The movie takes place in Maine and tells the story of a couple (Wilkinson and Spacek) whose only child is murdered by the ex husband of Marisa Tomei who th son was dating and how they deal with it afterwards.

The movie started out very well, even though it was pretty easy to see what was going to happen despite every description of the movie only hinting at it. Afterwards, the characters are left dealing with the loss, knowing he was their only son, and that any opportunity to have another has passed them by.

The performances are very good. Marisa Tomei was nominated for an Oscar, but her character seemed to be relegated to nothing more than a worried girlfriend before the murder and a grieving girlfriend afterwards. There wasn’t time to for us to learn more about her character and how her relationship with the son developed, so it suffers from that and she comes off as one dimensional.

Sissy Spacek’s performance was given the most ink and while it is very good the standout here is Tom Wilkinson as Matt Fowler. If you don’t know who Wilkinson is, you may recognize him as General Cornwallis from ‘The Patriot.’ His Oscar nomination was dell deserved.

The movie is paced slowly, but thankfully it wasn’t filled with melodramatic nonsense that would have easily made me go back to watching ‘Mallrats’ which was in the DVD player when I noticed this was on.

Unfortunately, the movie which started out as a dramatic character study, suddenly descends into a dumb ‘revenge’ movie that’s better suited for the claptrap seen on the Lifetime Movie Network, than an Oscar nominated motion picture. I lost all interest at that point, and spent the rest of the time changing channels, only checking back in to see how it would all resolve itself at the end. Problem is, there really was no resolution. It was though the writers couldn’t think of anything to do, so it just…ended.

I was annoyed that I wasted 90 minutes of my time watching a very good movie, only for it to be ruined in the last 30 minutes.

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About Jay Caruso

  • Chris, I totally agree with all your points on In the Bedroom, and have argued in its favor on the same basis many times, that to read the ending as a cheap revenge flick is to miss it completely.

    However, you are coming across as an effete snob who is a little too proud of the books he has read.

    “I would suggest brushing up on your Faulkner, O’Connor and Steinbeck,” you write. “Perhaps a bit of Kafka thrown in for good measure.” Only an immature second-year English major could write such rubbish without blushing — as if the only people who grasp this film are people who have taken a course in American fiction (and, presumably, think Steinbeck belongs in the same august company as the other two).

    That isn’t the case at all — there are perfectly well-read people who simply didn’t like the ending and saw it the way Jay did. I know one, in fact. Mere disagreement does not necessarily merit the holier-than-thou treatment.

  • Chris Wilson

    Well, we’ve come a long way from “In the Bedroom.”

    Lynch does have a style all his own, and most of his films bear his unique trademark. Thus, he’s a truly gifted director with an original, if a bit odd, vision. I suppose we could say the same thing about Kubrick.

    Time will only treat Lynch’s legacy/films well.

  • hmmm, i guess what i’m saying is that i don’t think he’s pretentious because the word pretentious implys intent.

    i think lynch is just plain weird…so weird for weird’s sake just comes naturally.

    in one of the interviews i saw he was describing these bizarre photos he’d been taking…stuff like ants crawling around on rotting food…and he seemed to be interested in this material in the same way a gradeschool kid might be fascinated in checking out the decay of a dead squirrel or something.

    i agree on “Eraserhead”. i watched it to know what everyone was talking about…but was glad when it was over.

  • Chris Wilson

    I will not deny David Lynch is a weird, nerdy movie guy. I just get the feeling with some of his films, he’s just weird for weird’s sake – i.e. pretentious. He’s shown he can make brilliant films such as “The Elephant Man,” “The Straight Story,” and “Blue Velvet.” I also like “Eraserhead,” though find it hard to watch. But the rest of his work is staring-at-the-afternoon-sun-masturbation.

  • that’s an interesting thought about Lynch…and i can see how a person might think some of his material is forced.

    however, after seeing him interviewed several times, i don’t think there’s a pretentious bone in his body. i think he’s just one weird, nerdy movie guy.

  • Chris Wilson

    “In the Bedroom” struck me at multiple levels. Perhaps because I once had a relationship similar to the son who was murdered in the film (an older woman, recently divorced, with children and jealous ex). Perhaps because the parents in “In the Bedroom” reminded me of my own parents in many ways, even down to the bitter argument they eventually have. So with me, the film struck a chord of emotional truth. It was dead on, and thus moved me in a profound way.

    I agree with your opinion of “Ice Storm.” While it is a good film, I did not feel it had the universal depth or substance of “In the Bedroom.” I could not relate to the characters as much as I could with “In the Bedroom.”

    Pretension in my opinion is forcibly trying to be intellectual. “In the Bedroom” never felt forced to me. Now David Lynch films (some of them) feel forced, and thus are pretentious. I also find much of Woody Allen’s later work to be pretentious. But “In the Bedroom” was honestly attempting to document how a long-time married couple comes to grips with the senseless murder of their only son. It is a tragedy that for me, hit all the right notes……

  • what, exactly, makes you think that “In The Bedroom” was made for ego-satisfaction?

    i didn’t like the movie, but not for that reason.

  • sallie

    “In the Bedroom is an extraordinary film.”

    No, it’s a boring and pretentious film, but that’s just my opinion and opinions can vary greatly for any movie. I do appreciate the occasional film dealing with human characters in tragic situations if it is uplifting, or if it must end on a low note, at least give insight into the way the character lives through this tragic experience.

    I do not like films that are made to satisfy the actor or director’s artistic ego with the assumption that those who don’t appreciate it are just not intelligent or artistic enough to enjoy it. In The Bedroom wreaked of that pretentious attitude. Ice Storm is another movie of this vein that comes to mind.

  • Chris Wilson

    I appreciate Sissy Spacek’s talents moreso now than during her youth. Age has tamed a fiery spirit. There seems to be peace in her eyes. But when she loses it, as she does in “In the Bedroom,” there’s that uncomfortable intensity spitting from her, akin to a cornered mountain lion. It’s that same uncomfortable intensity that made her so believable in such films as “Carrie” and “Crimes of the Heart.” It’s scary at times, almost like a live wire, laid bare, causing one to wince…..

  • my favorite movies tend to be character studies…lots of talking and character development, not much action.

    that said, i didn’t really enjoy In The Bedroom…mostly because i found Spacek’s character to be completely unlikeable. i found it tough to empathize with her so it threw a lot of the emotional content out of whack.

  • Chris Wilson

    If you are an ordinary moviegoer, then go see an ordinary film. “In the Bedroom” is an extraordinary film. I am sorry you cannot appreciate films dealing with human characters in tragic situations.

  • sallie

    Character studies might appeal to actors and the like, but to ordinary moviegoers character study means totally boring.

  • Chris Wilson

    “In the Bedroom” is a character study, in my opinion, rather than a revenge story. The characters being studied, in this case, are two upperclass, seemingly well-adjusted individuals. They are at peace with the world around them – for the most part – and have been married for a long time. They have resigned themselves to living out their lives together. “In the Bedroom” studies how these two seemingly normal people, in some ways you and me, deal with the traumatic loss of their son at the hands of a rather despicable, jealous ex-husband. Placed in the same situation, would you not perform the same act they eventually perform? Would you not even consider it? After committing the act, are these people at peace? Did they make the right moral choice? “In the Bedroom” is also a tragedy, not just because a son has been murdered, but because a long-time married couple, loved and respected within their community, has had the cold, harsh reality of unjust murder shoved down their throats. Their lives have been turned upside down, and suddenly they are questioning their existence, their lives and their self worth. Would you make the choice that the married couple makes in “In the Bedroom?” This film is an utterly believable character study, and the performances of Sissy Spacek and Tom Wilkinison are so good they should be studied by any bloke even remotely interested in acting as a profession….

    “The Sweet Hereafter” is an excellent film, by the way. It too deals with many of the same issues…..

  • Jay

    Chris, again, my problem with the movie arose when it turned into a ‘revenge’ movie. I would have rather seen the characters going through the contemplation of carrying out such an act.

    I think a much more well rounded film dealing with loss is ‘The Sweet Hereafter’ with Ian Holm. Of course that’s just my opinion. I do like Kevin Smith movies after all. 🙂

  • Chris Wilson

    I couldn’t disagree with your review of “In the Bedroom” more. But my degree was in English, so I was exposed to multiple short stories, novels and novellas detailing seemingly average people, encountering tragic circumstances, and thus reacting in a manner which would run counter to their normal emotions. The ending of “In the Bedroom” is left open to interpretation, and is thought-provoking to say the least. It is abundantly clear the characters will be haunted by their actions, but anymore haunted than by the senseless murder of their son? Has such an act eased their pain, or compounded it? Have they truly buried the past (pun intended)?

    “In the Bedroom” was a challenging, beautifully composed film. Several scenes moved me to tears, and the performances of Sissy Spacek and Tom Wilkinson rang with such emotional truth as to be unforgettably heartbreaking. What parents would not be tempted to participate in (or perform) the act they eventually do?

    I would suggest brushing up on your Faulkner, O’Connor and Steinbeck. Perhaps a bit of Kafka thrown in for good measure. This is not to say you are not well-read (though Mallrats kind of scares me), but perusing these authors may show you the kind of thought-provoking examples of storytelling reminiscent of the disturbing, always-fascinating film “In the Bedroom.”