F.I.L.M. of the Week (March 5, 2010)

5 03 2010

The celebration of the Academy Awards here at Marshall and the Movies extends to all corners of the blog, including my weekly “F.I.L.M.” of the Week column.  I felt like this week’s movie should be a Best Picture nominee, so I decided on “In the Bedroom.”  In 2001, this subtle work by Todd Field (director of my personal favorite “Little Children”) lost out to “A Beautiful Mind.”  Yet it still remains one of the most talked-about Best Picture entries from that year, so I have been compelled for a long time to watch it.

“In the Bedroom” was definitely NOT what I expected.  I had heard people call it one of the most forceful and compelling dramas of the decade, so I was anticipating a typical display of strong emotion and grief a la “Revolutionary Road.”  However, other than one incredibly affecting scene, it is a very subtle work.  The movie struck me as strange when I first watched it because it doesn’t really cling to any genre or cliché.  It is an unsparingly honest portrait of a couple dealing with the murder of their son.  Nothing is held back; nothing is candy-coated.

Sissy Spacek and Tom Wilkinson turn in deserving Academy Award-nominated performances as the aforementioned parents, whose twenty-something son (Nick Stahl) gets caught up in a messy love triangle with a single mother (Marisa Tomei) and her jealous and violent ex-husband (William Mapother, Ethan Rom from TV’s “Lost”).  They warn him to get out, but he believes he has something special with Natalie.  His defiance ultimately leads to his death at the hand of her former spouse.  Matt and Ruth (Wilkinson and Spacek) have a lot to deal with following the death: grief, sorrow, regret, longing, loneliness.  These all contribute to the crumbling of their relationship and any sort of peace of mind they might have found.

“In the Bedroom” will shock you in many ways, chiefly with its brutal realism but also with the state that it leaves you in.  I wasn’t quite sure how I felt when the credits began to roll, and I didn’t become more certain in the days and weeks that followed.  It’s not an unsatisfying feeling, and I’m not even sure that I would call it depressing.  It’s certainly unconventional, so I’ll leave it up to you to decide how you feel.  The movie presents the events as they are, void of sensationalism.  Perhaps you’ll feel a little numb – or not feeling anything at all.

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