December 2004 Archives
In The Bedroom is a multi-Oscar nominated picture about love, life and death in the small town of Camden, Maine. Featuring some stalwart performances by both veterans like Sissy Spacek, Marisa Tomei and Tom Wilkinson, as well as relative newcomers like Nick Stahl and William Mapother, it is a solid story about life in a small town when tragedy hits.Frank Fowler (Stahl) is the only child and budding architect of Matt (Wilkinson) and Ruth (Spacek), just graduated high school with a bright future in front of him, including interviews at some fancy Boston area schools. They live in Camden Maine, a small seacoast communty, where Matt is the local doctor. The one fly in the ointment is that Frank has fallen in love (despite his protestations to the contrary) with Natalie Strout (Tomei), the estranged wife of Richard (Mapother) and mother of two young sons. Richard is part of the canning Strouts, who own a big canning factory in town, but is also something of a hot head. Frank begins to have doubts about heading off to school and begins to tell conflicting stories about the college interview process to his parents. The parents obviously want Frank to head to a good school, although they like Natalie and her two boys. But this little melodrama is nothing compared to the tragedy that awaits all of them. I'll try not to give too much away; suffice to say, bad things happen to good people, and "revenge is a dish best served cold". I enjoyed this film, although a couple of things really bothered me. One, and the main thing, was how all the actors strove for that perfect Maine accent. Believe me, I have plenty of relatives born and raised "Downeast Maine" and none of them sound that way. It all sounded like a very Hollywood version of the Maine accent, like they needed extra emphasis (to go with the frequent views of the "Entering Camden" arch) of just how much the action was tied to Maine. It was very grating. The plodding and stolid storyline was the other main drawback. Every step felt calculated and even the hard to swallow retribution was spotlighted a mile away. It was almost too carefully constructed and a little too neat to mirror real life. And, despite the effort, I still didn't believe the characters would have taken the ultimate step in the end. The picture was sharp and the cinematography was real solid as well. There were a couple of real interesting shots, but for the most part, the story was told with a steady hand. Maine comes off looking very nice in the summer, with Camden the very picture of New England. I really enjoyed the Red Sox games playing in the background, on the radios all over the place. One amazing coincidence came up at the end, as the credits scrolled by. The movie was dedicated to the author Andre Dubus, whose story "The Killings" was used as the inspiration. Oddly enough, I am listening to a book on tape of the story "House of Sand and Fog" (later made into a movie itself), and it was written by Andre Dubus III, who turns out to be Andre Dubus' son, who lives right up the road in Newburyport and teaches at local colleges! Very odd how these serendipitous moments come about, isn't it? Anyway, I recommend this movie as a good rental. The acting was all above average (like the children in Lake Wobegon) and the story engrossing, especially for parents. It really tells a story of how much we have emotionally invested in our children, as scary as that may be.