Dir: Todd Field (Nonnie and Alex; accomplished character actor)
God Damn. This movie is like a kidney punch. I had heard great things about it, was hoping I would love it, and the film delivered way beyond my lofty expectations. It is an extraordinary movie, an essential entry in decade's most probing explorations of what it means to be human. A truly special achievment.
The death of their son causes a couple in small town Maine to reckon with their deepest emotions and overcome the most difficult obstacles. The script adopts an episodic approach to grief, letting minor moments speak volumes about how one event can completely rearrange one's entire worldview. The script is unbelievably sensitive and intelligent, illuminating the emotional journey's of each character with unparalleled depth and honesty. Everything seems real, nothing contrived. Nothing melodramatic or histrionic; just raw believable sadness and hurt that anyone can relate to. Easily one of the best scripts I have seen in many years (Although, I would expect these parents to be more savvy about the law. Minor point that rung sour in only one scene).
The acting is brilliant as well. Sissy Spacek and Marisa Tomei do a lot of sobbing and but never drop into caricature. But it is Tom Wilkinson's performance as the agrieved father that most deeply resonates. His character is restrained, uncomfortable with emotion and insecure. As such, his moments of grief and his personal transformation are doubly powerful for the cost they exact from him. I went through every single emotion of that character, at no point did I find his repsonses out of place. Wilkinson embodies that grief so deftly that he became real, for me at least.
The direction too is lovely. Why isn't Todd Field doing more movies ?!? Gorgeous shots of Maine, and the ending scenes with a harbour bathed in morning glow are a particular standout. A metaphor between music and life dominates the editing. I paraphrase Spacek"The grief comes in waves, unexpectedly. Like rests in music. The silence says so much." The use of fades to black in this film are the best I have ever seen.
Jesus, this is why I like movies. I continually say a good movie puts characters I care about in situations that challenge them. This film is reminsicent of Atom Egoyan's masterpiece The Sweet Hereafter in forcing its characters to reckon with deep grief. Only movies made with true intelligence and emotional understanding can pull that off. In the Bedroom is such a film. I am a better person for having seen it.
My absolute highest recommendation.