In the Bedroom | Chicago Reader

In the Bedroom

A film about devastating loss, wild grief, and single-minded vengeance seemed particularly germane in the year of its making (2001). In character actor Todd Field's directorial bow, Sissy Spacek and Tom Wilkinson play an educated middle-class couple coping, badly, with the violent death of their college-age son. In the Bedroom possesses many virtues: it has a real feel for the topography and rhythms of its coastal Maine setting and a true empathy for its people—Spacek and Wilkinson are given all the time and space they need to layer the guilt, rage, and prejudice that lie beneath a lifetime of enlightened gentility, and they have a field day. This is the kind of movie “serious” critics always think Hollywood should be making—intelligent, character driven, literate—but unfortunately nothing in it transcends the tasteful and the well made. Except the ending. Just when the proceedings have veered into familiar bloodletting-and-trembling territory, the entire axis of the film shifts, and the closing moment, so subtle it could be missed, calls into question practically everything that went before. Still, a killer ending does not a movie make, and ultimately In the Bedroom may be more interesting to talk about than sit through. 138 min.

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