In the Bedroom (2001) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

This highly acclaimed film is handled in a simple and realistic fashion, with a minimum of embellishment and contrivance, very little background music, very little that we could not imagine actually happening. It tries to imagine what would happen to real people in an unbearable situation.

A quiet, dignified middle aged couple experience a great loss. He is a doctor in Maine, she teaches music. Their only son is headed off to graduate school, but in the summer between his undergraduate and graduate years he has an affair with a pretty neighbor in her mid 30's. His parents react predictably. His dad envies him in a way, but knows that the boy needs to move on with his education, and reminds him so. Mother likes their neighbor, but can't resist the urge to blurt out her feelings about how the relationship could become a millstone around her son's neck. The son isn't sure what he wants. He loves the neighbor and her two young sons, but he's fully aware that his future would be complicated by a 35 year old woman and two little kids. Everybody discusses the matter gently and politely.

There is one more important character in the film, and it is from him that all the drama springs. The pretty neighbor has an ex-husband, who is gradually becoming more abusive.



A great tragedy ensues. Their son dies in the middle of domestic violence, and that tragedy changes all the other characters dramatically. All the studied politeness of the professional couple is stripped aside, and their emotions are brought to the surface. Their tightly-knit emotional control unravels, exacerbated by the nearby presence of their son's killer, who is out on bail.

The tension is managed perfectly in this film. It builds and builds, and is unrelieved. Todd Field did a helluva job in this, his debut as a director. As we watch it, we feel the pain of the characters, even the ones we don't much care for. When they commit acts they regret, we feel their guilt. 

DVD info from Amazon.

  • widescreen format, 2.35:1

  • no features

The film really works, in a quiet and painful way. I knew a little bit about it in advance, about as much as you know from reading this far, and I knew about the Oscar nominations, so I had certain expectations. I thought the actual film was far better than I expected. It seems like a quiet psychological drama about people disintegrating, but it surprises you with strong elements characteristic of a thriller, and that bonus raises it to an unexpectedly high level. Telling any more would be too much of a spoiler. If you don't mind a film that leaves you feeling depressed and edgy, go see it. 

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: four stars. Ebert 4/4, Berardinelli 4/4, 5/5

  • General UK consensus: three and a half stars. Daily Mail 6/10, Daily Telegraph 9/10, Independent 9/10, The Guardian 7/10, The Times 8/10, Evening Standard 9/10, The Express 8/10, The Mirror 9/10, BBC 4/5

  • Nominated for five Oscars, including best picture.

The People Vote ...

  • IMDB summary. IMDb voters score it 7.7/10, Guardian voters 6.6
  • with their dollars: It grossed about $36 million in the USA, with a budget below $2 million


IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a B.

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