Domestic Violence. Relationships your parents hate. Single mothers. Death of an only child. A plot to murder someone.
No, In the Bedroom is not a light summer movie. It is not a feel good movie. However, unlike most movies it does make you feel something. The plot revolves arround a young boy (Actor name) in the summer before he goes to college who starts to date a single mom (Marisa Tomei deserved an Oscar for this instead of My Cousin Vinnie) who has gotten out of a violent controlling relationship with (Actor Name). All three do the best work of their career. (young actor) succesfully negotiated being a child actor and nailed this befect not a young actor and not an adult actor (toughest transition in Hollywood that very few are able to do succesfully. Ironically, the one that did it best Juaquim Phoenix no longer acts.). He captured the character's childish naivity about relationship barriers while balancing it with a 20 something male bravado about casual relationships. Marisa Tomei hits her role out of the park. She showed the vulnerabilty that can only come from a deep relationship that goes incredibly bad and balances it with the hope of a good healthy relationship. She also shows her fear when she refuses to lie during a trial. (willnot spoil it). (Tom Cruise's cousin) gives a menacing portral of a socio-path while giving him the outward appearnce of being a fun guy to have a beer with. He does this without being cliche' and turning this role into a Lifetime Movie of the Week role. This performance was greatly overlooked and deserves more credit.
In almost any other movie, these three performances would have dominated the film and made a very, very good movie. However, the best acting of this movie, in one of the greatest on screen husband/wife couples of all time, is turned in by Sissy Spacek and Tom Wilkinson. Both of them have been better in other films (Coal Minner's Daughter and Michael Clayton/Fully Monty respectively), but they come togehter seemlessly here. They have the silent flow of a couple that has been together for forty years and say everything without saying a word. They way they deal with the death of their son and the subsequent trial and consequences of the trial is intimate and revealing.
The closing scene where Wilkinson is home and has the look of a man who has sunk to moral depths that were so far below himself that he never dreamed them possible, who is ravaged by the pain from the loss of his son, the fear of loss of even more, guilt over his actions are crippling to this pround, strong and essentially good man. Spacek's actions show that they will never talk about this, or possibly their son again, and wants to move on and go back to a normal life. Wilkinson knows this is not possible, but will try.
Essentially, this story is about desires. The characters who give into their desires loose their lives (in some cases literally and in some cases figuratively) and those that push down their desires survive but survive as shells of the people they use to be, want to be and see themselves as. No one is better off when this story ends from where it began. All of the people suffer. All of the people loose. The only people that benefit from this are those of us lucky enough to watch this great film....