In the Bedroom - rated - TEPID
Surf and Turf
This is a problematic film. It seems to have all the elements of a great
little independent film study of a family with problems, and yet it doesn't
quite get across the line. It wants to be something more than it is, but
the lobster was sufficient. We didn't need the red meat too.
It opens ominously, announcing itself as 'A Todd Field film.' "Todd
who?" I thought. It turns out that Todd was the pianist who led Tom
Cruise astray in Eyes Wide Shut (1999, Kubrick). Still, it makes
the most of its Maine setting in the early scenes, even if it went a bit
symbolic a bit early, with the lobster metaphor. The title, it seems, refers
to ferocious (pregnant) lady lobsters who rip the claws of male lobsters
if there's more than one in the cage (or "in the bedroom", as
the fisher-folk call it).
The symbolism continues as Frank (the family's son, played by Nick Stahl)
demonstrates a principal of architecture, using kid's building blocks to
build a house in which the parent's & kids' rooms are separated by a
common room. Then Frank's parents, Matt and Ruth (played by Tom Wilkinson
and Cissy Spacek) go into their bedroom and close the door.
The bedroom stars in a few more scenes: the kids have to stay in the bedroom
when their father, Richard (William Mapother, who is Tom Cruise's cousin),
And Ruth goes into the bedroom to lie down after the funeral - and the bedroom
is filled with living flowers.
Tom Wilkinson's performance has been widely praised, but I thought he was
wildly overacting in the early scenes. But he comes into his own at the
graveside - he simply stares incomprehendingly, and it is heartbreaking.
The film is very choppily edited, and it did occur to me that it must have
been very hard for the actors to sustain any emotion in a film that is basically
a series of short scenes. Cissy Spacek has also been praised for her performance,
but it was Nick Stahl and Marisa Tomei (as Nick's older lover) whose performances
impressed me. They created a couple of very believable characters - without
real showcase scenes
For me, the film became most interesting in the scenes which showed the
grieving process and how differently each person coped. There was a truly
harrowing scene when each of Tom and Ruth say unforgiveable things to each
other - and then forgive each other! Now that's interesting. But
then the real action begins, and that's where the film lost me.
A ravishinlgy beautiful small film about a family turned into a most unlikely
thriller. I got quite impatient with the film then - there were too many
impediments to the success of the task, and when the bridge placed one more
impediment in the way, I was about to give up.
But before I gave up, "auteur" Todd Field had to put one more
bit of symbolism in - there was a band aid on a wound - would it heal?
By that stage, I hardly cared.
A case of trying too hard on a first film , I guess.
© Michèle M Asprey 2002
This review is copyright. You must not use any part without my permission.