ninth symphony films - movie reviews


DIRECTOR  -  tom field

RATED  -  r

GENRE  -  drama

LENGTH  -  1530 minutes

RELEASED  -  30 december 2001

DISTRIBUTOR  -  miramax pictures

OFFICIAL SITE  -  in the bedroom

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $1,700,000
in the bedroom - a shot from the film


buy the dvd from in the bedroom at

buy the dvd from in the bedroom at

as the beauty of maine's brief and fleeting summer comes to an end, a group of uneasy family members find themselves in the midst of unimaginable tragedy.

based on the short story "killings" by andre dubus - an american writer who died in 1999. the film is dedicated to him.


picture from in the bedroom

picture from in the bedroom

picture from in the bedroom


two out of four possible stars

The people who inhabit in the bedroom are a depressed lot of people not prone to laughter. And their problems are quite overwhelming. It's a pity that this story does not inspire some sort of hope in its audience, because the theme of it all, the communication between family members, becomes mired in strange ending which offers no redemption. In fact, the ending to this film has only the power to create a sense of unease within the audience. Perhaps that was the goal of the director, Todd Field, that his audience should feel as if the curtain closed a few minutes too early.

Although there is quite a large climax to the events surrounding the murder of Tom Wilkinson and Sissy Spacek's son, there is no emotional resolution for the couple. The whole movie is about the relationship between those two characters and at the end, the audience has no idea how life will proceed for them. Will they fall back into non-communication, the way they had been before their son's death? Or have they moved onto a new method of living with one another, where communication holds their marriage together?

But the peculiarities of the story aside, the performances of the film, no matter how depressing their characters, are what is most appealing in this film. That has certainly been heaps of praise already given to Spacek and Wilkinson in recent advertisements, but I feel that Marisa Tomei's performance has been overlooked. Although her character drops out of the picture about half way into it, she's possibly the most effective actor in the whole movie. And this is remarkable, considering she only shows her face once after the halfway point.

And she is joined by a more than competent cast. Tom Wilkinson and Sissy Spacek both have very powerful characters and it is partly because of the dialogue between them that makes them a dynamic pair. Something which works against these powerful actors though is the lack of score playing throughout the film. For all intents and purposes there is no score in the movie to speak of. Excepting a group of girls that sing in three scenes where sissy spacek is directing them in the school choir. But in none of the scenes in the film where the characters are having to go through some kind of great emotional toil, is there any music playing.

Music is a tool that helps to move the story along, allow for smooth transitions, and to act as a filler in different scenes. But because there is no music in the movie whatsoever, the transitions in the movie must be accomplished by the fading in and out of the picture, and it doesn't always work. And if budget was a concern here, the filmmakers need not have hired a composer to arrange original music. Any number of classical compositions now in the public domain could have been put to use for nothing but the cost of hiring the orchestra to play the music. The picture falters in scenes where there is no music and periods of long silence between the characters.

The film seems to almost fall dead at these moments as there is nothing to keep the momentum of the picture going. The lack of music might have been a tool used by the filmmakers to create a different sort of film, it only serves to take away from a needed layer of the film. It might be that the performances do not have enough volume to fill the void that music would have filled had it been included with the performances. It's a pity that this aspect of the picture was avoided and ignored, because without it, the picture feels thin. Something else, which was odd about this picture, was the way it was edited together.

Or, rather, the content of the scenes and their progression in the movie. After the death of their son, Tom and Sissy's characters must go through the motions of grieving and fall into being taciturn and mean to one another. It is not their grieving is abnormal, but the scenes that are presented to the audience, and their pace, are peculiar. In two hours, the film moves more slowly than is needed. There are several scenes with either excessive dialogue or extended silence and the plot seems to stall during these moments.

Taking into account the events in the film, everything that happens could have been placed very easily into a half hour film. The incident that spurs all the conflict in the movie on, the murder of Nick Stahl's character, happens too far into the movie. And when his parents, Sissy and Tom, decide to do something about it, it doesn't seem as though they've acted fast enough upon their emotions. Perhaps this slowness can be traced to the lack of a musical score of any kind, but whatever the reason, this film encompasses a very long two hours.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.

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