Todd Field’s directorial debut has an ultra-real feel about it yet at the same time is strangely unmoving. It seeks to explore the nature of the relationship between two seemingly ordinary, middle-class people who are respected members of the tight-knit community in which they live. On the surface everything appears to be as it should until tragedy strikes.
Sissy Spacek is strong in the role of wife and mother, which won her a Golden Globe award this week. English actor Tom Wilkinson (The Full Monty) is outstanding as the father and husband. Marisa Tomei is more than respectable in a serious role as the older girlfriend of the college- student son.
The film is way too long at 130 minutes and Field subjects the audience to a relentlessly slow build-up to the main drama. This padding builds an expectation that is never entirely met by the film. Somehow Field is in awe of his subject and instead of jumping in, he tiptoes around the edge of his analysis of jealousy, control, anguish and revenge.
Still, In the Bedroom is one of the better things to have come out of America for a while. It could have been way more stodgy and it is good to see Sissy Spacek in a role which champions her strengths. It is also good for a change to see a film coming out of the States which deals with mature rather than teenage or thirty-something relationships. It will be interesting to see where Field next directs his energies.