Thursday, 14 October 2010
One of the most interesting things about Todd Field's In The Bedroom is the way it slowly unravels, not discharges with a bang, a downward spiral of grief and hopelessness. It is so easy to portray life as a utopia before tragedy strikes- in this, the said event reveals hidden repressions and resentments, and tears the lives of the victim's families apart. It is based on the short story The Killings by Andre Dubus, a former captain of the marine corps who eventually wrote about gun-related tragedies and the double sided nature of revenge. This film permeates vengeance- each time, some body gets hurt (or killed) and not a single person wins.
I see In The Bedroom tagged as 'melodrama' on Imdb. According to my film-based book 'melodrama' is 'bold and passionate drama, with distinct lines between good and evil' (not a direct quote.) Although the film is made up of victims, perpetrators, and passive bystanders, with a victim inevitable turning the tables on the perpetrator, it's anything but simple, armed with a certain ambiguity that sets it apart from the others. No one is selfless, and the dimwitted, impulsive killer, though not with much going for him, is not the typical unkillable Halloween psycho.
The film follows two families, the Fowlers and the Strouts, living in contemporary Maine, whose lives are going in very different directions.Matt Fowler (Tom Wilkinson) is a doctor, and is concerned about a job for his son Frank (Nick Stahl) that reaches his full potential. Frank is an affable young man whose ambiguous attitude towards his future are causing Matt and his wife Ruth (Sissy Spacek) some headaches. He is gifted at architecture, with elaborate drawn structures all over his walls, but he includes working on a boat catching lobsters
This is partially because he is unsure if he wants to be what his parents want him to be, partially because of Natalie Strout (Marisa Tomei,) an older woman and well-intentioned mother of two boys, who he has fallen for. Natalie has just suffered a violent break-up with Richard (William Mapother.) The is an implication that Richard has physically abused at least one of their two sons, Jason and Duncan, and Natalie wants out of that relationship.
One day Frank is beaten, and he comes home with black eye. He doesn't want to call the police, says Frank. It will just scare Natalie's boys. The next time Frank encounters Richard, the Fowler parents are thrown into a guilt-ridden nightmare that will strain, bend, and perhaps break them. Matt halfheartedly continues to participate in life, whereas Ruth sits quietly, almost comatose, smoking cigarettes on the chair. Ruth mistakenly confuses Matt's attempts to reacquaint himself with life with not grieving, and the event unearths discontentment and suspicions.
There are only a few faulty scenes One involves claustrophobic close-ups and buzzing sound effects seem to have come straight out of Edgar Wright's Shaun of the Dead, which served it's purpose of slightly surreal humor in the latter. Here it is odd and uncomfortable in a not remotely riveting way. The acting, on the other hand, is very good. The commendable performences and realistic rappor t between family members make one care about the characters and where the plot is going, which you know, thanks in part to me, is nowhere good (rated R)