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[whitespace] 'In the Bedroom'
Couple's Therapy Tom Wilkinson and Sissy Spacek stare deep into the abyss of family problems in 'In the Bedroom.'

Rifle Shot

The family tragedy in Todd Field's 'In the Bedroom' echoes like a rifle shot

By Don Hines

LIKE HEARING a hunter's rifle shot while walking through the woods, In the Bedroom is a pastoral splintered by violence from not unexpected places. In a seaside Maine village, Frank Fowler (Nick Stahl) spends the summer before graduate school working a blue-collar job (lobster fisherman) with a blue-collar girlfriend (Marisa Tomei, never better as a swarthy Stella Dallas). She's an older single mom not quite separated from her volatile husband. Frank's liberal parents, Ruth (Sissy Spacek) and Matt (Tom Wilkinson), disapprove of and indulge their son's liaison, respectively.

First-time director Todd Field has a keen eye and sure hand He walks the film, at a small town's somnambulant pace, into a first-act tragedy and aftermath. In the year's best ensemble performance, Matt slowly erodes from grief, and Ruth's face hardens into a death mask. Although a crucial plot twist reeks of Dirty Harry Down East, the parents' New England reticence is as heartbreaking as Robert Frost's poem "Home Burial."

In the Bedroom (R; 130 min.), directed by Todd Field, written by Rob Festinger and Field, based on a story by Andre Dubus, photographed by Antonio Calvache and starring Sissy Spacek, Tom Wilkinson and Marisa Tomei, plays at Camera One in San Jose and at the Aquarius in Palo Alto.

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From the January 3-9, 2002 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2002 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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