Director: Todd Field
Year Released: 2001
Can't make out my opinion - yet - with regards to actors becoming directors; In the Bedroom isn't causing me to lean in either direction so I'm going to have to keep waiting. Todd Field is a very good actor (recall his minimal role in Eyes Wide Shut or his turn in Walking & Talking), but for his directorial debut he's in Bergman mode (or doing a variation on Dead Man Walking). The murder of a young adult and the impotence of the legal system to deal ethically with the murderer shakes up the previously calm existence of the deceased's parents (Tom Wilkinson and Sissy Spacek). Nick Stahl - who has to be 2001's top sacrificial lamb (see Bully, or better yet, just trust me) - is the most white bread kid I've seen in a while: he has no flaws, stays up late studying, is passionate about fishing, adores his girlfriend (Marisa Tomei), is a fantastic surrogate father, is going to be a great architect and on and on, and designed to make the tragedy all that more 'affecting,' while his killer (William Mapother) does the standard jealous lover routine (knocking objects around, staring ominously, trespassing). The 'aftermath' of the killing (the bereavement stage) is windy and protracted (everyone starts drifting off into space) and all this leads up to a finale everyone pretty much expects. The acting is superb - the performers must, for people who admire this, make the expansive second hour tolerable. Can't help but chuckle at the lunk-head symbolism of the last shot: yes, of course, time heals all wounds.