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In the Bedroom | Review

Coast Erosion

Field’s directorial debut is among the year’s best.

I had missed In the Bedroom during its brief visit at the Montreal World Film Festival, and after hearing all the buzz that the film was getting-collecting critic’s bests and acting awards; it quickly became the film at the top of my “films I most want to see list”. Well, the wait is finally over…and? Todd Field’s (a.k.a Nick Nightingale the piano player who spills the beans in Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut) directorial debut is a sharply detailed and gripping examination of the human condition and not so much a character study, but rather, an exploration into the depths of emotions found during a family crisis. Shot entirely in his own backyard, (Maine is Field’s resident backwoods) with a beautiful New England small-town backdrop; there is a blue-collar type feel to the film that resonates through old lobster traps, faded boats and beautiful rustic homes. One of the film’s opening shots is set in the open field and the background sound transports the viewer into those dreary long summer days.

The middle class Fowler family is comprised of a mid-50’s couple Matt (Tom Wilkinson of The Full Monty) and Ruth (Sissy Spacek from Lynch’s The Straight Story) whom live the comfortable life and their future is mounted around their only son, Frank played by Nick Stahl (Bully). A summer romance with a slightly older girlfriend Natalie Strout Marisa Tomei (My Cousin Vinny) turns into something more than, well, just another summer romance and minor changes involve major implications as foreshadowed with the reference to a ‘bedroom’, in lobster trap terms, which is when a third lobster finds itself in the trap. Field also elaborates a little more with a minor fishing accident and the removal of the band-aid in the closing moments. The unimaginable occurs and shakes the family right down to its foundation-completely dissipating the couple. As the first half of the film concentrated on developing the characters- the second half gives attention to tackling the issues and emotions that are familiar to such an occurrence such as in Nanni Moretti’s The Son’s Room. This is a subject matter, which is rarely touched in mainstream Hollywood cinema.

The gravy of the film is with the acting performances from the two seasoned actors- it is not by accident that the film is picking up many acting awards, as Wilkinson and Spacek command the screen with there outstanding portrayals, in specific, there are a couple of long takes where the exchanges between the two are especially moving and the highlight of the film must be a clear five minute exchange which is absolutely heart-wrenching. Perhaps, it is the fact that it is so human without any of that unnecessary glossiness which makes this particular scene and the rest of film resonant. Field does not rush the film to conclusion, the many fades to black-(weak filmmaking) which pop up throughout the film come across like strips of sections and suggests that there are time lapses within the narrative, allowing for the character to push forward into their many psychological platforms. The narrative allows the film to build up the anger, the fury and the rage until it boils over onto emotionally unchartered waters. In the Bedroom is unrelenting and absorbing material and taking a couple of deep breaths between the sequences is strongly suggested. Undeniably, this is the perfect example to demonstrate the importance of independent cinema and why it is necessary for the public, for festival organizers and for major studios to seek out such gems.

Rating 4 stars

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Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist and critic at (founded in 2000). Eric is a regular at Sundance, Cannes and TIFF. He has a BFA in Film Studies at the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013 he served as a Narrative Competition Jury Member at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson's This Teacher (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022 he served as a New Flesh Comp for Best First Feature at the 2022 Fantasia Intl. Film Festival. Current top films for 2022 include Tár (Todd Field), All That Breathes (Shaunak Sen), Aftersun (Charlotte Wells).

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