In the Bedroom: a Film Not in the Bedroom

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I’ve wanted to watch In The Bedroom for months simply because I am a huge Tom Wilkinson fan, and strangely I am both glad and depressed that I finally watched it. This is anything but a happy movie. There is no uplifting resolution that reaffirms cliché ideas that good will always triumph over evil, or true love will always triumph. So if you are looking for a happy ending, do not see this movie. Not to say it is a bad film. Indeed, it is quite the opposite. No matter how depressing this movie is, it is quite an innovative film.

Don’t let the title fool you. In the Bedroom is not a movie about nymphomania. In the Bedroom, released in 2001 and directed by Tom Fields begins with a young man, Frank (Nick Stahl) dating an older woman (Marisa Tomer) with two children and a disgruntled ex-husband named Richard (William Mapother). Richard confronts Frank and shoots him. Frank’s distraught parents, Matt (Tom Wilkinson) and Ruth (Sissy Spacek) Fowler have to cope with both the death of their son and his murderer being set free on bail when not enough evidence is found, and the possibility that he will only be charged with manslaughter. Sure does sound like a fun Saturday night, right?

But as I stated, this is an innovative movie. One thing I noticed is that right after the death of Frank, there are some very quick shots of Matt and Ruth, each only just a few seconds before the screen cuts to black and moves onto another. Flashes of Ruth watching TV and Matt mowing the lawn. It seems to be expressing that after Frank’s death, Matt and Ruth only have ephemeral glimpses of the life they once had. Also, there is almost no music after Frank dies, except for when Ruth is working, since she’s a choir teacher. Frank’s death has taken out the real music in her life. On top of that, the acting is really good. Tom Wilkinson lived up to my high opinion of him, though I must express I prefer him with a British accent (but that’s just the small Anglophile in me speaking). And though she is only preset in the film mainly in the beginning, I thought Marisa Tomer did a masterful job.

However, this movie has one flaw. That might sound good, a movie only having one flaw, but it’s a big flaw. Richard gets to post bail and is probably only going to be charged with manslaughter because no one witnesses the crime. I know my only knowledge of this comes from watching Law and Order, but people are convicted all the time when no witnesses are present. The police can prove what gun the bullet came from, and usually whether or not the suspect was the one to fire it or not. It is true that in the middle of the movie, the Fowler’s attorney says it’s more than that though, that Richard is claiming that there was a struggle. This case is a little better, but the problem is still present. According to the attorney, evidence proving a struggle or lack thereof can’t be attained because of the old state of the building where the crime occurred. However, if a struggle happens, you can tell. The people involved will have bruises, scratches, skin and/or blood under their fingernails (and this I know from my thorough experience fighting people to the death). So, yeah, the building might be old, but just check Richard’s body. For me, this aspect of the story is not convincing, and considering it’s one of the central conflicts in the movie, it’s too big of a plot hole to ignore.

Though the film has a subtle nuance that I love, the huge plot hole knocks the score down to a 6 out of 10. But I still love you Tom Wilkinson.

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