In the Bedroom [2001]

Director: Todd Field
Stars: Tom Wilkinson, Sissy Spacek, Nick Stahl, Marisa Tomei, William Mapother
Genre: Crime, Drama
Rating: R (Restricted)
Runtime: 130 minutes

When a film with such emotional resonance and visual poise as In the Bedroom makes it to the screen, it seems an unexpected gift meant to remind us of the medium's possibility for sensitivity and epiphany. First-time director Todd Field, who adapted the film from a story by Andre Dubus with screenwriter Rob Festinger, quietly observes the loss, rage, and inexorable desire for revenge that follows the murder of a 21-year-old son. The film opens with Frank (Nick Stahl), back from college for the summer, taking up with Natalie (Marisa Tomei), a slightly older, sexually alluring woman with two boys and an estranged husband prone to violence. It is the tender portrayal of love between Frank and his parents, even as Frank and Natalie's relationship reveals the prejudices of all involved, that makes the subsequent anguish of the film so acute. Matt and Ruth Fowler (Tom Wilkinson and Sissy Spacek), middle-class denizens of a Maine lobster town where everyone knows each other, toil through weeks of devastation and blame following Frank's murder before their outrage obliterates all else. Field's exact handling of jealousy, class division, and grief is abetted by career-highlight performances from Wilkinson and Spacek. In the Bedroom is, along with You Can Count On Me, one of the best American dramas to grace the new millennium so far. --Fionn Meade

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