In the BedroomJanuary 11, 2002
A New England couple's college-aged son dates an older woman with two small children and an unwelcome ex-husband. Then something terrible occurs in this wrenching, emotional drama.
Release Year: 2001
Rating: 7.5/10 (23,701 voted)
Critic's Score: 86/100
Stars: Tom Wilkinson, Sissy Spacek, Nick Stahl
The Fowlers are a normal family in Maine. Matt is the town doctor and loves to fish, his wife, Ruth, is the school's choir leader, and their son, Frank, is home from his first year of college. Frank is in love with Natalie, a young mother who isn't quite divorced yet from her ex-husband, Richard Strout, whose family runs the local cannery. It makes Richard's blood run cold to see his wife running around with another man. And soon, an unthinkable tragedy happens that will tear the Fowlers apart…
Writers: Robert Festinger, Todd Field
Frank T. Wells
W. Clapham Murray
Terry A. Burgess
Diane E. Hamlin
A young man. An older woman. Her ex-husband. Things are about to explode…
Release Date: 11 January 2002
Filming Locations: Belfast, Maine, USA
Box Office Details
Opening Weekend: $93,972
(25 November 2001)
(12 October 2003)
(Sundance Film Festival)
Did You Know?
Sissy Spacek decorated the house in which her character lives.
Errors made by characters (possibly deliberate errors by the filmmakers):
The physician's mistake was thinking ending a person's life in small-town New England would not be uncovered. He may have thought their law enforcement would lack the wisdom of using a forensic-minded pathologist in the place of an ordinary coroner. At the end of the film, Matt remembered he had not worn gloves and DNA from the puncture to his index finger from being bitten by the lobster would prove his identity. Nearly every such crime contains some overlooked error that proves to incriminate the person.
[walks up to Ruth]
Oh, I was hoping we could talk.
I wanted to tell you how truly sorry I am
and if there's ever anything I can ever do… to-to talk with you.
[Ruth hits Natalie across the face, Natalie screams, and Ruth goes back to work, and Natalie walks off in shock and sadness]
something's going on in the bedroom
9 out of 10
Watching Todd Field's feature film debut `In the Bedroom,' I could not
but be impressed by the sheer audacity of the film, by the spot-on
performances, and by the many twists and turns that no critic should
Yet amidst all the film's obvious strengths, there was still something
missing-something to tie it all together, something to endow the film
more than just a fleeting impression.
Ironically perhaps, I was provided this missing bit of information not by
the film, but by a male audience member sitting at the end of my aisle,
trying to explain the point of the film in less than derogatory terms to
`You're missing the whole point of the film,' he said. `It was all about
men being controlled by women.'
No doubt he read this interpretation from someone else's review of the
(and what a sweet piece of justice it would be if that critic were a
It is quite possible that he was not even aware of the ramifications of
what he had said. But this man's legitimacy aside, his statement has not
left me since, and the film in turn has had the same luck in escaping
We are first introduced to Frank Fowler (Nick Stahl, `Bully') and Natalie
Strout (Marisa Tomei, `My Cousin Vinny'), he a young college student with
immediate plans to settle down, she an older divorcee raising two
They are in love, though for Frank she is little more than a `summer
Meanwhile Natalie's ex-husband, Richard (William Mapother, `Mission:
Impossible 2'), is unwilling to let her out of his life, and begins to be
physically abusive to Frank.
Frank's parents, Matt (Tom Wilkinson, `The Full Monty') and Ruth (Sissy
Spacek, `The Straight Story')-both in top form here-show appropriate
for their only son, and they intervene in this dangerous love triangle
unexpected twists and tragic results.
The film jumps about in tone from a light romantic romp to a seeming
political treatise to a creepy, nocturnal thriller. Some have criticized
the film for this alleged inconsistency in tone, slow pacing, and a
deliberate ending. But these naysayers have overlooked the
Frank may not even really love Natalie, so much as he loves being
by her and sating his mother by being with her. Richard becomes a threat
everyone because he is unwilling to let Natalie consider him out of her
life; he is a slave to her whim. The resulting tension reveals a rift
between Frank's parents, and in particular, his father's actions in the
demonstrate a helpless allegiance to his wife and her command.
Field, who up until now has been primarily an actor (he was the piano
in `Eyes Wide Shut'), understands these important points but does not
the viewer over the head with them. He presents a reality more raw and
than any other piece of film in recent memory. Yet he does so with a
restraint that Hollywood seems to have forgotten. Most of the film's
violence is overheard or implied, and only explicitly shown when
for the audience to completely understand what has happened. This allows
for more subtle details, like a bridgekeeper who must run around in
to alternate traffic between the road and the sea, to emerge as truly
haunting, lasting images.
But `In the Bedroom' is not about any of these things. It is, first and
foremost, about its characters. It does not fall prey to plot mechanics,
nor does it flinch at exploring even the most sympathetic characters'
darkest sides. For this and so many other reasons which are best left
discussed behind closed doors between loved ones, `In the Bedroom'
at turning the camera on flawed relationships of all forms, and it is one
the best films of the year.