Nominated for five Academy Awards in 2001, In the Bedroom (Best Picture) stars Sissy Spacek (Best Actress), Tom Wilkinson (Best Actor) and Morisa Tomei (Best Supporting Actress). Although none of those nominations actually netted a winner, it is still an impressive boast, and as such is sure to garner interest from many movie fans.
Ruth and Matt Fowler (Spacek and Wilkinson) are a happy couple living in a small town in Maine, USA. She is a choral music teacher and he is a local doctor. Their only child, Frank (Nick Stahl), is preparing for college, but his summer romance with Natalie (Tomei), a single but still married mother of two, causes all involved a little concern. Not least of all Natalie's estranged husband Richard (William Mapother), who makes it clear that he is not only a little ticked at "College Boy", but that he plans to move back into town to claim his wife and children. Nor is he reluctant to show his menacing side, and a brief but violent scuffle with Frank indicates that the man is not going to go away quietly.
By the end of summer, much has changed and the tragedy that befalls the families is something that not only haunts, but also quickly strains most of their relationships. Lives are forever changed as the enormity of the tragedy begins to bite deeper.
The cast really is the standout in this film, a favourite of the Sundance Film Festival. Spacek gives a typically brilliant performance, and just why she has won only one of her six Oscar nominations (The Coal Miner's Daughter in 1981) is beyond me. Tomei proves that she is more than a pretty face, Wilkinson has certainly taken a huge leap forward since The Full Monty and young Stahl also puts in a fine performance. The few supporting characters are also wonderful.
In the Bedroom was filmed in Maine, lending an extra air of authenticity. The scenery is quite beautiful, augmented nicely by the film's subtle music score.
The film never sets a breathtaking pace, and there are times when it does feel like it is going nowhere as characters struggle to get on with their lives. One or two characters inexplicably drop out of the film, and some of the threads are left dangling. The core of the film is there, but one or two questions will cross your mind, not least of all the ending. There is a conclusion to the film, and it makes sense, but one is left wondering what becomes of the characters from there. This however was intentional and actually works well, for real life never ends nicely with all threads neatly tied, so why should a character drama such as In the Bedroom?
This film will appeal mostly to those that appreciate fine drama more than action. There are no hidden plots, sudden twists, car chases, or explosions. It is the tale of a small town family coming to terms with tragedy and the various ways in that they manage and try to cope.
This is a gorgeous transfer. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. It looks very fresh, though every scene is ever so slightly darkened which gives the film a sense of the metaphoric darkness that tragedy brings. Colours are natural, and skin tones are spot on. There are no problems with colour-bleeding or chroma noise. Black levels are fine and shadow detail is excellent.
There are virtually no film artefacts such as dirt or marks, and you will need to scrutinise the film more than it is worth to find them. There is no evidence of shimmer or aliasing either, and the overall image is sharp and well detailed. It is almost impossible to fault this transfer. There are clear and accurate subtitles provided in English and English for the Hearing-Impaired.
There is but one audio track provided, and that is in English Dolby Digital 5.1. While the majority of the audio is dialogue presented almost exclusively from the centre speaker, there are constant ambient sounds coming from the rear speakers, even though most of them are so subtle you will probably not really notice.
The music score makes use of all speakers, though the orchestral score is quite subdued overall, and never rousing. There are no low-level sounds to speak of and the subwoofer is rarely in use, though the music played over the end credits does sound very rich and full. All dialogue and other sounds are clear.
There is some noticeable separation and panning of sound, but as this is mostly a dialogue-drive character drama, there is little need for such things. There is no problem with this audio, but lovers of BDAF (Big Dumb Action Films) will be disappointed if they go in expecting the usual sound-fest.
The only extra is the 2:24 minute Theatrical Trailer, which is a pan and scan affair presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 that does what it needs to do in generating just enough interest to entice a potential audience.
Five Academy Award Nominations (four in major categories) will be enough to generate interest in this film, and those that appreciate wonderful performances will indeed enjoy this. I was tempted to use the word 'thriller' in this review, but thought better of it, for there is not really much to be had in the way of thrills. There are very few surprises, and no plot twists or unexpected endings. Those looking for solid dramas that reflect the real world will enjoy In the Bedroom.