Todd Field's IN THE BEDROOM is an artistic and realistic portrait of domestic trouble in small-town America. Sissy Spacek and Tom Wilkinson star as Ruth and Matt Fowler, the parents of a recent high school graduate, Frank (Nick Stahl), who has an affair with a married woman, Natalie (Marisa Tomei). A tragic event near the beginning of the film seems to stunt its action and dialogue, allowing the film to change into a largely visual piece based on memories, feelings, and silent communication; while the film's slow-moving camera, soft sunny lighting, and cautious pacing give it a resonating intensity.
Set in coastal Maine, the Fowlers are a well-liked family with simple, straightforward values. Dr. Fowler has his own small medical practice. Mrs. Fowler directs the chorus at the high school. Frank is a good kid who is working on the fishing docks for the summer, waiting for college in the fall. Frank falls into a summer romance with Natalie, an older woman with two young sons and a creepy, lurking husband (William Mapother) from whom she is separated. The relationship is worrisome to Mr. and Mrs. Fowler, but they want to be supportive of their son so they gently nudge him to think about the bigger picture, without being overbearing. But when the unthinkable happens, Mr. and Mrs. Fowler come face to face with their worst nightmare. Quietly, calmly, and with the most logic they can muster, they begin a dark and dangerous psychological journey. The result, reinforced by stunning performances from Wilkinson and Spacek, is a pensive, penetrating, and utterly believable story.