In the Bedroom


In the Bedroom

Critics Consensus

Expertly crafted and performed, In the Bedroom is a quietly wrenching portrayal of grief.



Total Count: 138


Audience Score

User Ratings: 20,102
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In the Bedroom Photos

Movie Info

Character actor and noted photographer Todd Field made his directorial debut with this emotionally powerful drama, which earned enthusiastic reviews at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival. Frank Fowler (Nick Stahl) is a handsome and amiable young man who has recently graduated from high school and is spending the summer working as a lobster fisherman before heading off to college in the fall. Frank is also involved with Natalie (Marisa Tomei), an attractive woman ten years his senior who is separated from her husband Richard (William Mapother), though their divorce has not yet been finalized. Frank's parents, Matt (Tom Wilkinson) and Ruth (Sissy Spacek) wonder if it's wise for their son to be pursuing a romance that he won't be able to continue in a few months; Matt trusts Frank and leaves him to make his own decisions, while Ruth quietly but firmly registers her objections. One day, Richard snaps, and breaks into Natalie's home; when he discovers Frank is there, he viciously kills him. The wheels of justice turn in an unexpected direction, and Richard is released on bail, free to go his own way as he awaits his trial. Matt and Ruth are both deeply traumatized by the event; while Matt tries to deal with his hurt by retreating into his work and avoiding his feelings, Ruth instead becomes increasingly withdrawn, losing interest in her job as a music teacher and spending her nights chain smoking in front of the television. In the Bedroom was adapted from the short story Killings by Andre Dubus. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

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Sissy Spacek
as Ruth Fowler
Tom Wilkinson
as Matt Fowler
Nick Stahl
as Frank Fowler
Marisa Tomei
as Natalie Strout
William Mapother
as Richard Strout
William Wise
as Willis Grinnel
Celia Weston
as Katie Grinnel
Karen Allen
as Marla Keyes
Ron Russell
as Rockland T-ball
Jonathan Walsh
as Father McCasslin
Diane E. Hamlin
as Davis' Assistant
Samuel Johnson
as Rockland T-ball
Christopher Adams
as Duncan Strout
Henry Field
as Young Frank
Harriet Dawkins
as Alma Adamson
Bill Dawkins
as Elwyn Adamson
Kevin Chapman
as Tim's Friend
Harold Withee
as Grocery Clerk
David Blair (XI)
as Marlboro Man
Elisabeth McClure
as Elderly Woman
Alida P. Field
as Young Gymnast
Andrea Walker
as Waitress
Coomenic Cuccinello III
as Rockland T-ball
Veronica Cartwright
as Minister on television
Daran Norris
as Red sox replay
Don Lewis
as Bridge Operator
Doug Rich
as Fork lift Operator
Robin Wimbiscus
as Performace Coordinator
Lisa Carlton
as Rockland T-ball
Rebecca Benner
as Rockland T-ball
Francis Mazzeo
as Rockland T-ball
Brian Hagley
as Rockland T-ball
Sam Cousins
as Rockland T-ball
Jackie Hagley
as Rockland T-ball
Comenic Cuccinello III
as Rockland T-Ball
Ronald Russell
as Rockland T-Ball
Rachel Freeman
as Rockland T-ball
Kenney Dale Johnson
as Rockland T-ball
Daniel Hendricks
as Rockland T-ball
Parker Spear
as Rockland T-ball
Sam Johnson
as Rockland T-Ball
Matthew Maxwell
as Rockland T-ball
Shyann Gauthier
as Rockland T-ball
Joshua Mills
as Rockland T-ball
Bethany Berry
as Rockland T-ball
Eric Rahkonen
as Rockland T-ball
Hope Berry
as Rockland T-ball
Natalie Russell
as Rockland T-ball
Chelsea Peasley
as Rockland T-ball
Misty Seekins
as Rockland T-ball
Daniel Baxter-Leahy
as Rockland T-ball
Philip Spearing
as Rockland T-ball
Brandon Carleton
as Rockland T-ball
Mackenzie Tucker
as Rockland T-ball
Owen Thompson
as Rockland T-ball
Ben Staples
as Rockland T-ball
Ryan Ecker
as Rockland T-ball
Jared Mekin
as Rockland T-ball
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Critic Reviews for In the Bedroom

All Critics (138) | Top Critics (33)

Audience Reviews for In the Bedroom

  • Mar 30, 2014
    "As the snow flies on a cold and gray Chicago mornin', a poor little baby child is born in the..." Oh my, well, that song reference just about took quite the uncomfortable twist, partly because it would spark up the controversies surrounding when an embryo's life begins. Ouch, now abortion is a strong subject to just up and toss out there, but really, people, it's about as harsh as this film's subject matter, which isn't quite as fun as the title would lead you to believe. Granted, the short story on which this film is based is titled "Killings", but outside of that, it's kind of hard to tell just how dark this film will be, unless, of course, you look at who is attached to this project. Sissy Spacek sure does know her way around an unnerving character drama, and as for the director, Todd Field, he always looks like he's kind of angry about something. Oh, he's probably just upset because he looks like some kind of a botched fusion of James McAvoy and Liam Neeson... and because he was in "Eyes Wide Shut", speaking of "in the bedroom", if you know what I mean. Man, I can't even humor "Eyes Wide Shut" with some lame "wink" type of joke (Winking; how about one eye wide shut, Stanley Kubrick? There's another one), so Field should probably stick with making films about lust rather than being in them, because this is an actually pretty intense drama... sometimes, when it's not being blanded up by conventions, alone. There are inspired aspects here and there throughout this film, yet there are also plenty of borderline glaring lazy aspects, particularly within the originality factor, for even Thomas Newman's score is a touch too trite for its own good, and outside of that, this plot follows trope, after trope, after trope, with conventional characterization, until standing as hopelessly predictable. Now, I'd be a little more willing to get over that if the story wasn't too familiar for its own good partly because it's too realist for its own good, in that it draws overly grounded characters with overly grounded conflicts which are too minimalist in structure to open all that much potential for intrigue, and when it actually attempts to beef up, it tries a touch too hard. The film has some distancing melodramatic, or at least feels as though it does because of expository shortcomings, which not only limit the background development to characters who are thin enough overall, but undercook motivations for conflicts that are, of course, so important in this ensemble character drama, making it even harder to buy into potentially intriguing subject matter. Still, no matter how underdeveloped, this film takes its time to drag its feet something awful in order to achieve its very unreasonable runtime of about around 130 minutes, with meandering material and monotonous excess in filler that begin to lose a sense of progression, gradually losing momentum that, of course, falls all the quicker as pacing grows slower behind a dry directorial approach. Despite having a certain thoughtfulness to its coldness, Todd Field's naturalist directorial approach is just about the last thing a film this thin and structurally meandering needs, as it quiets things down something fierce to meditate upon nothing going on, until the film finds itself devolving into blandness, then continuing to fall until it hits dullness, and, well, even flirts with tedium. When the thoughtful direction bites, it really does sink its teeth into you, but it's generally rather misguided in its cold take on heated material that is still not intense enough for you to forgive all of the predictability, underdevelopment and repetitious structure that ultimately secure the final product as underwhelming. Still, as misguided as this film is, it finds its path enough time to endear, and do justice to a story worthy of a more realized interpretation. A study on how a family struggles with coping after a tragedy befalls someone who intervened in someone else's family conflicts, this film's story concept is a little too familiar in the dramatic film industry, as well as too recognizable from real life to have all that much theatrical momentum, not helped by more dramatic minimalism than you might expect from looking at the broad synopsis, but it's still worthy, dramatically and thematically, as a portrait on the shaky depths of humanity that Todd Field takes with thoughtfulness, and too much of it. Field's steady storytelling is simply too steady for its own good, being somberly bone-dry, and even stylistically flat, so as cruel irony would have it, it's Field's ambitious steadiness which secures the final product's underwhelmingness through dullness, although such dullness might simply derive from Field's having only so much material to draw upon with his thoughtfulness, because when the script presents Field with the opportunity, his atmosphere nips, sometimes bites. Well, maybe the bites are much more occasional than that, as there is so much minimalism to material and coldness to storytelling, but make no mistake, there are effective moments here that are worth waiting for, once Field's efforts as co-writer with Robert Festinger present segments to latch onto. Formulaic, underdeveloped, overlong and even uneven, once it departs from a first act that features prominent characters and subplots which are jarringly ripped from the layered drama, Field's and Festinger's script is, well, something of a mess, and yet, if its directorial inspiration was a little more colorful, then the script could have perhaps driven the final product to, or at least close to a rewarding point, as there's still plenty of believable wit to the dialogue, as well as memorable characters who are not all that well-developed, but remain well-drawn enough to be reasonably worthy. Indeed, it does ultimately come down to the character aspects of this drama, because as the flat style, steady direction and sparse writing ought to reflect, this drama isn't about too much more than mere intimacy to very human conflicts, and while it often slips up even that department, when the characterization is meaty, the film is particularly endearing. Of course, it might not so much be that meat to characterization that sells the drama's most effective moments, as much as it's the selling of the characterization through the performances in a solid cast which, of course, has little to work with in this blandly minimalist affair, but still has the brightest highlights, with Sissy Spacek and Tom Wilkinson particularly standing out in their subtly intense, when not powerfully emotive portrayals of good, older people whose relationship and individual humanity go challenged by an overwhelming tragedy that parents should not have to face. Quite frankly, the film starts out kind of promising with its thoughtfulness, but once you get used to its formula, it only loses momentum more and more, until sputtering out very much short of rewarding, yet well before it slips into mediocrity, it is secured as decent as more than a few highlights in storytelling that endear, despite the misguidedness. In conclusion, the story is bland enough in its minimalism, without the conventionalism, expository shortcomings, exhaustingly overdrawn and sparse plotting, and dully cold atmosphere that slowly, but surely, drive a promising drama into underwhelmingness, challenged enough by effective moments to thoughtful direction and writing, and by strong performances, to do enough justice to an intriguing story that makes "In the Bedroom" an endearing and sometimes effective drama, even with its shortcomings. 2.5/5 - Fair
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Nov 04, 2013
    Wow! What an ending. Of course I would never do something stupid like revealing it. Tom Wilkinson is the real star of this absolutely gripping drama. These are real everyday people trying to grips with things beyond their control.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Feb 29, 2012
    In the Bedroom is unlike any drama I have ever seen, it starts off looking like a romance film but soon its true colors form about 30 minutes into the movie. This movie really focuses on the nature of revenge and grief of a loved one, and I had to ask my question "what would I do if my child was murdered and nobody did anything about it?" In this life we are always faced with challenges like grief and there are different ways we can deal with it, like drinking or blaming it on others and this film shows a nature of humanity that I have never seen. But another pure beauty this film has is the characters and the performances from the cast that plays them. Sissy Spacek plays (in my opinion) the best performance of her whole career, she is every mother who loves her child and seeing that pain she goes through is just sad and we pity her. Tom Wilkinson is every father who tought his son the ways of life and how a father and son have a bond like no other, and every scene where he had to talk about his son was just so painful. What makes this story so effective is that we get to know these characters before he is killed, they are typical parents and he is their son with a dilemma of fating a older woman with a ex-husband who is insane, and that is what catches the eye of a true film lover. The last 30 minutes of this film were incredible in my opinion, it picks up its slow pace and things truly get intense and I loved it. In the Bedroom is one of the most effective dramas I have ever seen, it works in so many ways that it just catches the audience with the twist of events that occur and it does not become a romance, but a tragedy. I loved this film and it deserved all the praise it was given.
    Bradley W Super Reviewer
  • Jan 20, 2012
    This is a drama about a young man who has a summer romance with an older, newly divorced mother. The subplot is about the young man's parents and the strain a tragedy puts on their marriage.
    Juli R Super Reviewer

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