All things are possible ‘in the bedroom’

Mark Hornberger

The Villanova Cultural Film Series kicks off the school year in a big way with the screening of Todd Field’s 2001 masterpiece, “In the Bedroom.”  This tale of love, lust, death and revenge simply focuses on a couple trying to live in the aftermath of their son’s murder.  

“In the Bedroom” is a journey; by its conclusion the viewer has been pushed through a spectrum of emotions and left knowing how fragile life can be.  

Seasoned actors Sissy Spacek and Tom Wilkinson lead the cast with brilliant performances, but this film’s excellence relies on all cast members.  Nick Stahl, William Mapother and Marisa Tomei all show that a leading role is not necessary to shine on screen.

The film can be broken up into two parts.  The first section portrays a loving, middle-class family that lives in a small port town in Maine.  Between barbecues, poker night and Little League, the viewer is lulled into a sense of security, but there is room for tragedy.  

As often is the case in dramas, the second part shows how things fall apart.  When the college-aged son of the couple enters into a love affair with an older married woman, it becomes clear that two is company and three is a crowd.  Relationships are irreparably damaged as sorrow befalls this once happy family.  The death of a child shows that time may not be able to heal all wounds.

“In the Bedroom” is an adaptation of Andre Dubus’ short story, “Killings.”  First time director Todd Field co-wrote the screenplay and made his vision come alive in a most peculiar way – he let the actors act.  

Field began his career as an actor, and though he is more than willing to tackle writing and directing, he knows the importance of an on-screen characterization.  By not cluttering the amazing performances with visual elements, Field gives his actors the room they need to convey emotions to the viewer.  This allows a raw power to come through that is absent from most movies. “In the Bedroom” turned the silver screen gold with five Academy Award nominations (best picture, best actor, best actress, best supporting actress and best adapted screenplay).  A combination of amazing acting, writing and editing show that creating a masterpiece is a team effort.  All you have to do is let the drama unfold before your eyes.  

Be sure to note the musical scores as well.  While the visual aspect of the film is left uncluttered, Thomas Newman adds remarkable depth to each scene with music that sometimes conveys even more than the picture on the screen.

You have four chances to see Villanova’s screening of “In the Bedroom” in the Connelly Center Cinema: Saturday at 7 p.m., Sunday at both 3:30 and 7 p.m. and Monday, at 7 p.m.  Monday’s screening only will feature an introduction and a discussion about the film led by Joan D. Lynch.  Admission is $3 for students and $4 for all others.