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In The Bedroom: Huh, that was it!?

  • Mar 16, 2002
  • by
Pros: The poetry, I love great poetry, and some scenic shoot of New England.

Cons: Everything else in the film.

The Bottom Line: Grossly over-hyped film with little life. There might be a story to be told, but you’d be hard pressed to stay awake long enough to gleam it meaning.

Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie's plot.

Stunned silence. Like a bubble enveloping my spouse and I, it floated in the still air of the theater. The spouse and I looked at one another with that all too familiar look on our faces, the one that shouted without speaking “huh, what was that?” Several one word verbs came to my mind as I sat in the semi-dark of the local Cineplex and watched the credits roll by: boring, constipated, slow, plodding, uninspired, ugly, and overrated floated close to the surface.

“What was all the buzz about?” I wondered aloud after we left the theater. The spouse muttered, “I have no idea; that was far and away the worse movie I have seen in quite a while. I want my money back.” And then I too felt like I had been robbed, and misled, hit over the head by and mugged by those who would heap undeserved praise on a movie that deserved at best a C- rating! How I wondered aloud once more, could this movie be considered Oscar material?

In The Bedroom has been lauded as one of the best films of the year, by everyone with a voice to shout it to the masses, and a pen to write about it; the women of The View claim to love it, but looking back they gush over every film release especially if the lead actor or actress might make an appearance on their show! But I, the humble Bard of Epinions, can see no redeemable frame by which elevate the movie to academy award status.

In The Bedroom, moves at a snails pace, and it seemed to me we were watching a college students’ entry into his first film festival, rather than a polished Oscar worthy film. There was no action, hardly any drama, no violence, no emotional upheaval, and no sex in a film allegedly filled with the stuff of human failings. All of the action happened off-camera; the fight, the domestic violence, the shooting, the sexual liaisons. The only real action is “the slap” which happens near the end of this boring, plotting movie, and left me thirsting for more; I was given just one drop of watered intrigue and left abandoned in a desert full of nothing but ugly people, ugly houses, ugly little chorus girls, ugly cigarette smoke, and ugly scenes that seemed to last an eternity.

In The Bedroom starts out in the middle of a relationship between Frank (Nick Stahl), and Natalie (Marisa Tomei) the older women he has fallen in love with. We are not really told how they met, since even in the small New England lobster town where they live, their orbits would have been diametrically opposed, but here they are together. Frank’s parents Matt (Tom Wilkinson; The Patriot) and Ruth (Sissy Spacek), have high hopes for their son, who is in college, but we are left to pick that tidbit out of the subtext of the plot as the movie plods along. Ruth sees real danger in the relationship, with Matt sees none at all. The antagonist in the film Richard (William Mapother), is Natalie’s soon to be ex-husband; yes she is still married and having an affair with a much younger man. Richard somehow look unreal, unnatural, like he was wearing a plastic mask over his face; a cartoon character really. Was this intentional?

There are several themes to In The Bedroom, all unfolding in their own snail pace towards an end that is as uninspired and lifeless as the rest of the film. The title of the film is derived from an old Maine lobsterman’s tale that too many male lobsters "in the bedroom" of a trap inevitably results in the mutilation of one or more of these males, as they fight over scarce space. This we learn a quarter of the way into the film as Matt imparts wisdom onto his witless, but caring son.

While most seem to think Spacek’s performance Oscar worthy, and dare to suggest that it was on par with Halle Berry’s performance Monsters Ball, I found nothing laudable about it. Most of time we are given glimpses of her directing a choir, or smoking an endless stream of cigarettes while watching lifeless images on an old television screen, or staring out a windows at nothingness; where pray-tell is the performance worthy of nomination, let alone a trophy? Tom Wilkinson, turns in a more lively performance as Frank’s seemingly happy but subdued father, and Tomei is not given enough screen time to gauge her performance.

The only redeeming grace of In The Bedroom, are two poems, recited in portions by one of Matt's poker buddies. He recites the poems in a quest to get his mates to bid or fold their hands. The first poem is from William Blake's Auguries of Innocence, the eight stanza from Henry Wordsworth Longfellow's eloquent and touching My Lost Youth, to wit:

There are things of which I may not speak;
There are dreams that cannot die;
There are thoughts that make the strong heart weak,
And bring a pallor into the cheek,
And a mist before the eye.
And the words of that fatal song
Come over me like a chill:
"A boy's will is the wind's will,
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.”

At the time these words are spoken Matt is in the middle of an emotional crisis, both internally with himself and externally with his wife; the lines in the poem were probably meant to speak to both.

Throughout the film, I found myself waiting with anticipation for the one scene used over and over again to hype the movie; the scene in which Matt and Ruth have their final confrontation, and blame is assessed for the terrible wrongs that have befallen them all. I say waiting with anticipation because it is one of the few places in where any outward emotion is shown at all, when any action takes place. There were a few false starts along the way, blank stares, polite questions and hurried lies between Matt and Ruth, but even when the scene played itself out it was anticlimactic, it was too late, I had long since given up caring for anyone in the film. The people meant nothing to me, not even Natalie the long suffering mother of two, whom I should have felt some connection by virtue of her station, but I was not given enough of her to connect with, if that makes any sense.

I have played the scenes from In The Bedroom, over and over in my head and keep coming to the same conclusion; this film was boring, ugly, over-hyped, uninspired, and not Oscar caliber work. A feature film is supposed to above all else entertain me, inspire me, intrigue me, move me, teach me a lesson I would not otherwise obtain; this film failed on all counts. It played out more like a documentary then a major studio release. Perhaps In The Bedroom in its smug intellectualism was trying the “spare us” the gory details of its humans’ evil doings, but the intended audiences for this film are not children to be spared the ugly drama of life. I do not go to a movie to wonder what happens in a fight, I want to see the fight! I want action, I want unsuppressed drama, I want emotion, I want sex, and forgive me, but I want see violence if indeed it is part of the storyline! I want to feel emotion, I want to be moved, I want to care about at least one character enough to want to reach out to the screen and want to help him or her cope! In other words I want to be kept awake by substance; if I want high brow intellectual banter and subtext, I’ll watch Masterpiece Theater!


Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 13 and Older

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More In the Bedroom reviews
review by . November 01, 2008
The story opens in a Maine lobster town where young Matt Fowler, home from college for the summer,  has fallen in love with an older divorcee with two children. Although Matt says it's not serious, his parents are worried. And the woman's ex-husband is a violent man.     The title, "In the Bedroom," refers not to torrid love scenes but is slang for "in a lobster trap;" early on we learn that if two male lobsters are "in the bedroom" with a female, the males will tear each …
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Vincent Martin ()
Ranked #187
I am an IT Professional and have worked in the industry for over 20 years. I may be a computer geek, but I also like reading, writing, cooking, music, current events and regretfully, politics.
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