What is a film school movie that follows all the beginner's rules doing in the Oscar category of best film? 'In the Bedroom' directed by first time film filmmaker Tod Field fulfills the course requirements for everything you learned in 'Scriptwriting 101'.
Here's the formula of the film. Introduce in the very beginning an image with a metaphor-- like , uh, male lobsters that can't survive and one female whose life cycle will outlive them both! Run that metaphor to the ground several times in the film, and just in case the audience doesn't pick it up,include it in the ending.
Here's the pitch. John and Mary Doe in North America have raised a son, Boy Doe, who is college bound. He falls for a women who is in the process of leaving an abusive husband. She, 'The Troubled Woman' arouses even Boy Doe's father and his best friend who exclaim while barbecuing hamburgers that they have to 'check on the buns'. Its a polite little film, and uneventful that does try to make a point but a slew of Oscar nominations such as best picture, best actress, best actor and best supporting actress can be attributed to the heavy pre Oscar push by production company Miramax who picked up 'In the Bedroom' after Sundance this year and who has brought other watch the grass grow movies like 'The Cider House Rules' to Academy attention.
While Sissy Spacek has been a phenomenal actress in films like 'Carrie' and Robert Altman's 'The Women', she is really miscast as a grieving housewife. It's great that she'd only sit home and knit which would be a real career dive,and that she gets to work as a choir leader. She should have really taken a course at Berklee College of Music on conducting. Her directions would lead any choir astray as you couldn't feel the beat. Now I love Spacek's work and she is good in the film. But this kind of film may be where outrageous actresses are destined to be at 50.
Its important to note that In the Bedroom does not send waves of spell binding suspense and I kept on waiting for the film to begin. Small provincial Northern American towns are noted for their perfunctory dialog in between intermittent sounds of silence. Compare that to the quick urban banter of today's movies and you can understand that many clean hometown families of America respond to such a film and the critics too.
The surprise element that occurs pits Spacek against her husband. Both blame each other, and naturally Spacek assumes all the blame, reinforcing the myth that it is always the mother's fault, But for the observant, 'In the Bedroom' does expose the mythology of happy monogamous American families growing up in white communities.
This is Moira Sullivan for Movie Magazine International, Stockholm Sweden
© 2002 - Moira Sullivan - Air Date: 02/02
In the Bedroom
USA - 2001