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In The Bedroom

review by Zach B.



Rating: R (For Some Violence and Language)

Running Time: 130 minutes

Starring: Sissy Spacek, Tom Wilkinson, Nick Stahl, William Mapother, William Wise, Ceila Weston and Marisa Tomei

Screenplay by: Rob Festinger and Todd Field
Based on a story by: Andre Dubus

Directed by: Todd Field


Studio: Disney

Retail Price: $29.99

Features: Sneak Peeks

Specs: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, English Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, Scene Selections (17 Scenes)

Released: August 13th, 2002



"In The Bedroom" is the heartwrenching story of the Fowlers. Wife Ruth (Sissy Spacek) and husband Matt (Tom Wilkinson) seem to be living a perfectly happy life in a small Maine town. Ruth is a high school chorus director while Matt is a doctor. They have a son Frank (Nick Stahl), who's studying some type of design in college. Frank has a strong relationship with Natalie (Marisa Tomei). Natalie is a nice (and older) women, with two young boys and a vengeful ex-lover she's not exactly divorced from yet. As her ex-lover becomes filled with jealousy and Nick does his best to protect the woman he loves, it all leads to tragedy and a study of consequences, love and how a family copes with such sudden, depressing events.

There are many reasons why film buffs and the mass audience love "In The Bedroom." It's quite easy to see why, actually. The story is all wrapped in simplicity, but when it comes undone, there is a ton of depth to be found and explore that not only can we relate to and identify with, but also have some empathy with. A film like "In The Bedroom" challenges our emotions and feelings to recognize what doing the right thing is about, who we are and our own values as well as morals.

The movie is an expanded version of the classic Andre Dubus story entitled "Killings." While I've never read the original source material, writers Todd Field and Rob Festinger create a wonderful, complex character drama. There are some really intense moments that are lonely and quiet, while other intense moments are loud have the same effect. The dialogue in this movie flows naturally, but there's such a plain depression and sadness to the movie. The story is beautiful in its content, but it engrosses you with its characters and what happens as the lives of a family are torn apart. The resolution is also quite amazing, and really grabs you and makes you think about the film as a whole, and people as a whole. There's no question why the script got an Oscar® nomination.

The film is so intricate and quite truthful. It's quite symbolic. There is something to gain that Frank is interested in design and how he ends up shaping things and creating things to his liking, because what happens to him changes the whole course, feelings of the characters and complete tone of the movie. There's also something to be said that Ruth is a chorus teacher and Matt is a doctor. Ruth brings some type of beauty while Matt makes things better, but in hindsight, they can't do that with what has happened. The little boy who sees Matt, the moving of the bridge, Matt's finger injury, the opening scene and what the title of the movie exactly means.

The characters are truly amazing in this film. It all turns out that the characters learn about themselves in different ways and much closely after the sad events. This isn't your typical revenge tale. So ground is covered in this movie. The interaction between Ruth and Matt is superb, as Ruth's bitterness becomes greater and greater, as we sense a certain weakness and coldness to her. Matt is a man who has to come to gripes with what is appropriate in his life, what to do next and have closure. Guilt is felt by Natalie, and those they know and who are indirectly involved become truly key.

Todd Field, making his directorial debut with this movie, does a really amazing job. Capturing beautiful scenic views of Maine, he paints a much more scenic picture of the characters coming to terms with what has happened to them. With many close-ups and an isolated feel to everything, painting things with such heartache and peace, his effective and efficient way of shooting the film really does help what Field is trying to convey.

When it comes down to it though, the acting carries all the emotions, tension and nerves perfectly. Sissy Spacek is perfectly tense, cold and downright strong as the battered Ruth. Tom Wilkinson, shedding his thick English accent, gives a career best as Matt. Matt is a character unsure of what to feel at times, but through his motives, his sadness and how he deals with his situation, Wilkinson shows it off with great ease. Both rightfully earned Oscar® nods for their work. Same for Marisa Tomei, who I felt there could have been to more of her character, but she does justice as Natalie quite nicely.

William Wise, William Mapother, Nick Stahl and Celia Weston also give effective, stirring and downright amazing supporting performances that captures the story even more. While I don't think "In The Bedroom" was the greatest film of 2001, it's certainly worth a look and certainly tells a great, captivating story. It may be a bit overrated and a bit overshadowed by its amazing acting, but when it comes down to it, I think this is one flick that will stand the test of time.



"In The Bedroom" was a film that was shot on a very low budget, but nonetheless, Disney has cranked out an amazing transfer that's worthy of the film that's downright sharp (you may think the production values were higher because it looks so good). Edge enhancment is non-existant, the transfer is pretty clean except for some pieces of dirt and blemishes here and there and the grain isn't so bad. Presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, detail is excellent, black levels are nice and color saturation is quite good capturing the boisterous color of certain scenes and the slick bleakness. Some shots seem a little overexposed, not to much shimmering and noise throughout here and there, but there is good stuff to be found here. Simply put, Disney does it again... well done.


There are English and French 5.1 Dolby Digital tracks for the audio portion, but these tracks really have no life or anything to give them stand out. Granted, "In The Bedroom" is a pretty quiet film. There are intense moments that do breathe some activity into this track, but those seldom moments are too far in between it all. The mix uses five channels, but surrounds and subwoofer use don't add up to very much at all. This mix probably would have been just as effective as a Dolby Surround mix, probably. Fidelity and some sounds are a little on the low side, but the musical score from Thomas Newman brings nice little touches to the track.


Despite all the kudos, the awards and the acclaim... nothing. Except if you count Sneak Peeks for "Baran," "Behind The Sun," "Italian for Beginners," "Gangs Of New York" and "Full Frontal."


Amazing, gutwrenching, thoughtful and downright beautiful, "In The Bedroom" is an instant classic and truly a fine character study of people, families and human nature. The transfer is pretty glorious, the sound mix is decent and there are no real supplements to speak of, sadly. If you've never seen it, it's surely worth a rental. Otherwise, if you're a die hard fan of this great movie, it's worth a purchase at a rather steep 29.99 retail price.