IN THE BEDROOM. (2001) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

bedroom

IN THE BEDROOM. (2001) BASED ON THE SHORT STORY ‘KILLINGS’ BY ANDRE DUBUS II. DIRECTED BY TODD FIELD. STARRING TOM WILKINSON, SISSY SPACEK, NICK STAHL, WILLIAM MAPOTHER, WILLIAM WISE AND CELIA WESTON.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

I’ve loved this film since I first saw it years ago. It’s a gorgeous film, with just the right amount of pain and suffering in it to please an emotional wreck such as myself, lol. It’s the story of a family torn apart by love, or at least the love of an eighteen-year-old college boy from a well-to-do family for a much older single mother of two who works part-time as a shop-girl. Get the picture? It could be love, but it’s probably mostly just lust. Bloke’s at his sexual peak at that age, isn’t he, so no wonder the older ladies come sniffing around.

Frank Fowler is the handsome young school-leaver in question. He literally has the world at his fingertips. He shows great promise as an architect and he’s going to college in the fall, after one last long lazy hazy summer fishing for lobster on the coast of Maine, where he lives with his parents.

His dad Matt is the local doctor, well-liked and respected by everyone in the community because he’s genuinely a lovely guy, and he worships his son and only child. Frank’s mother Ruth, a choral music teacher at the local school, loves Frank too; after all, he’s her beloved only child as well. She’s not as likeable as her husband, however. She was the hard-ass parent, apparently, while Matt was the soft touch, which is the opposite to how it probably is in most other families.

She’s prickly, touchy, a bit of a cold fish, even, and over the course of the marriage, the doctor and his wife have drifted apart. The lines of communication are, if not exactly shut down, then at least not as open as they might once have been. It’s sad, but it happens. And it’s not irreversible. It can actually be fixed, by that one little word: communication. But you gotta work at it.

The main (Maine, geddit?) problem the Fowlers have at the moment is that Frank has been seeing a local, much older single mother called Natalie, who’s beautiful in a washed-out, faded, tired kind of way that has captivated the youthful Frank, and, let’s be honest here, his old man Matt as well. Matt and his bezzie mate Willis can hardly keep their eyes off Natalie at family gatherings, she’s such a tidy piece of ass.

Natalie comes with complications, however. She has two young sons who are at the age where they need a man to look up to, and they’re already getting dangerously attached to Frank. If/when the young couple break up, as Frank’s mother certainly wants them to do, it will be hard on the two young lads. They do have a father of their own, though, and he’s the biggest fly in Frank and Natalie’s ointment…

Richard Strout is an obnoxious, womanising, beer-swilling yobbo. He even looks the part, with the sleazy little douchebag moustache he wears. He can’t stand that his ex-wife is seeing someone, especially someone to whom Strout clearly feels socially and educationally inferior.

He’s jealous and possessive, and yet he was such a bad husband and unreliable father in the past that Natalie wants nothing to do with him now. So it’s all his own fault he’s in the position he’s in, but people like him will always find someone else to blame for their own shortcomings. In this case, that person is College Boy Frank Fowler…

Frank assures his mum, when pressed, that he and Natalie are just a ‘summer fling’ before he goes off to college in the fall, but Natalie and her boys are already coming to depend on Frank. Someone’s going to get hurt if there’s a break-up. And, if the violent sociopath Richard Strout has his way, someone’s going to get hurt even before there’s a break-up. Can the Fowler family withstand the aftershocks of inviting someone with Natalie’s kind of baggage into their little domain…?

Tom Wilkinson (Gerald from THE FULL MONTY, 1997) does a fantastic job as the father whose heart is broken by the one thing guaranteed to break any father’s heart. It takes guts to take the stand he takes and to do the things he does, and his bitchy, passive-aggressive wife had damned well better stand by him for doing them.

Sissy Spacek (the original Carrie) is superb here also as the mother of Frank. You can tell how much she loathes the idea of her precious baby boy sleeping with the shop-soiled Natalie by the way she’s so passive-aggressively polite to Natalie in person…! There’s no way she thinks Natalie is good enough for her boy.

Matt’s lifelong friends the Grinnells, Katie and Willis, are the perfect example of a big sprawling American family, with their ten or eleven grandchildren and all the photo albums and scrapbooks that record every triumph, every disappointment, every skinned knee and every Prom Night.

That scene where poor Ruth has to listen to Old Ma Grinnell counting her grandchildren while Ruth is having to fake an interest in each one individually is hard and sad to watch, but it happens. Life goes on, and people tend to forget after a while that you’re still nursing a tragedy in your bosom. It’s not their fault. It’s just the way life is.

The Eastern European choral music Ruth is teaching the schoolgirls is beautifully haunting, and the scenery in the film is just gorgeous. Maine is Stephen King country, isn’t it? No wonder he loves it so much. I’d love to go there sometime and wander around and see the things he’s seen and walk in the places where he’s walked. Maybe one day…

By the way, Karen Allen from the INDIANA JONES films has a small role in the film. And the reason the film is called IN THE BEDROOM is lobster-related, of all things. It took me many viewings to work this out for myself, lol, and here I am giving it to you lot for free. Enjoy the film, anyway. I certainly hope you get as much out of it as I did. I’ve watched it many times and it’s lost none of its beauty or poignancy yet.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

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