In the Bedroom

In the Bedroom (2001) movie poster

(2001) dir. Todd Field
viewed: 11/19/02

In the Bedroom was a much more interesting film than I had imagined it would be.

Films that tend to get Oscar nominations for acting roles, though they of course feature “juicy” characters for actors to emote their way through, they often offer much less in the way of film-making or anything overly cinematic. This is a gross generalization, of course, and worse yet, most of my examples that I would suggest are films that I haven’t actually seen (I am Sam (2001), Monster’s Ball (2001), Training Day (2001), e.g.), but have only read about (so I truly am weakening my position on this).

There are, of course, exceptions to every rule (even weak, potentially indefensible ones like this). I only bring this up because I thought that In the Bedroom might have fallen into this catergory for me, the type of film that lots of people go to see for the performances, but are actually really unsatisfying as films.

My supposition about this film, in this case, was wrong.

Beyond being an interesting mixture of genres (the “family melodrama” meets the “thriller”), Todd Field’s In the Bedroom offers interesting metaphors regarding space and the family unit. The first allusion to this occurs early in the film on a lobster boat, when Tom Wilkinson’s character talks about what happens when two male lobsters get caught in the same trap, showing the one that has lost a foreclaw. I wish I could quote the dialogue exactly, but it’s been a couple weeks already…this is the piece of dialogue in the film from which the title arises.

Later in the film, Nick Stahl’s character, a student of architecture, shows a little model that he has created in the style of an architect that he admires. He describes the way that the architect uses space to connect and separate people in his model house. Field goes on to shoot the film with a keen eye turned to the “real” space his characters inhabit, challenging their earlier words through the actions and events that occur in the homes. I can’t analyze it further without a second viewing, but it’s an interesting motif that plays throughout the film and seems to be a key point of criticism.

I won’t go on about this, but I think that this was an excellent film, surprising, dark, and strong.

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