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By Anthony Miele | January 23, 2001

Similar in theme and tone to Best Picture winner “American Beauty,” “In the Bedroom” is, on the surface, a basic little story of your typical well-to-do family living just off the shore in a small town in New England. However, once the surface of the shell is ruptured, we are taken through a fascinating portrayal of the intimate details of this “normal” family, as well as this small town.
Telling very little, yet hinting at something much greater is how the first thirty minutes unfold. It is here where we are “shown” the characters, not merely “told” how or what they are like. It is through a glance from a child to his would be father or an early metaphor where a lobster trap seems to sum up the tragedy to come where the director gives subtle depth not only to his characters but a richly vivid storyline.
The second half is plainly about coping. Thoughts and memories of little things — a piece of wood that was nailed to a tree years back, old drawings showcasing talent that never was, a rusty swing set that should have been torn down long ago. Simply staged scenes of a husband and wife watching a late night show, saying not a word, but speaking volumes.
Tom Wilkinson and Sissy Spacek, (Dr. and Mrs. Fowler) both deserve Oscar nods for their delicate yet emotionally-charged performances. Marisa Tomei also earns praise for her portrayal of the battered mother of two coping with her bitterly jealous ex.
Co-writer / Director Todd Field has definitely been to the John Sayles / Terrence Malick School of Storytelling. Always slow, never rushing scenes, making sure that every frame is unleashed at the exact appropriate moment. Saying nothing yet showing mountains — this is the specific style of storytelling that has seemingily lost favor in big-time moviemaking today. “In the Bedroom” occasionally straddles that delicate line between bordome and excess, yet never fails to maintain a certain lever of interest.

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