Saturday, February 4, 2017

Oscar Movie Review: "In the Bedroom" (2001)

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Movie"In the Bedroom"
Year Nominated: 2002
Director: Todd Field
Rating: R
Running Time: 2 hours, 10 minutes
Did It Win?: No.

Frank (Nick Stahl), a young college kid, begins a relationship with a slightly older mother of two named Natalie (Marisa Tomei), who is going through a divorce. His mother Ruth (Sissy Spacek) isn't thrilled about the situation, and his father Matt (Tom Wilkinson) just wants his son to be happy. Nobody could have foreseen the unthinkable problems on the horizon when Natalie's ex, Richard (William Mapother), tries to insert himself back in the picture.

"In the Bedroom" is the feature film debut of director Todd Field and was nominated for five Academy Awards, including best picture. This is not a feel good movie at all. In fact, it is a soul-crushingly depressing film that is a dramatic tragedy in every sense. Field seems to enjoy making these super heavy, emotionally draining films as his only other feature length movie to his credit is "Little Children," another extremely bleak, grim cinematic experience. Neither of these films are the type you can watch over and over, unless you have some masochistic tendencies.

"In the Bedroom" stars Nick Stahl as Frank Fowler, a young college kid with a bright future in architecture, though he does toy with idea of becoming a lobster fisherman at one point.  A lot of this has to do with the fact that he has recently begun a relationship with a woman named Natalie Strout, played by Marisa Tomei, who was nominated for best supporting actress for her performance here. She is a bit older than Frank and is a mother of two young boys. Frank seems to really like her and isn't sure he can maintain a relationship with her while he's off working on his architecture degree. Frank's mother Ruth, played by Sissy Spacek, who was also nominated for an Oscar and won a Golden Globe for her performance in this movie, isn't exactly happy about Frank's relationship. She is an Ivy league graduate of Brown University and expects a lot from her son. However, his father Dr. Matt Fowler, played by Tom Wilkinson in another Oscar nominated performance, is a little more supportive of Frank doing what he wants in the pursuit of happiness. Of course, problems arise when Natalie's ex name Richard, played by William Mapother, shows up and starts causing problems. We can't exactly get into detail without spoiling the film, but he inserts himself into the picture and tries to get back together with Natalie regardless of what she wants.

As we mentioned, this is a deeply emotional film that has many layered characters, the ones actors love to play. Really, it is what many may refer to as a prime Oscar bait film due to its themes and plot points. The story, though tragic, is quite gripping, even though it does feel a bit slow at times. It is a hefty story to unpack, so we're pretty forgiving of its speed, but it's clearly intentionally paced to allow the gravity and emotion of the situation to fester with the audience, much like it does with the characters. We start to see how everything affects them and eats away at them bit by bit until it all comes to a head by the film's end.

We definitely recommend seeing "In The Bedroom" for its powerful performances by Marisa Tomei, Sissy Spacek, and Tom Wilkinson, as well as its dramatic story. It isn't likely you will revisit this film more than once in every few years to a decade, or even more than once a lifetime. It is extremely hard to watch, but it is absolutely worth viewing.


My Rating: 8/10
BigJ's Rating: 8/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.5/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 93%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!
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Last Oscar season, we were watching: "Bound for Glory"

Two Oscar seasons ago, we were watching: "Inglorious Basterds"

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