`In The Bedroom' is a beautiful film, brilliantly paced, slow but steady, climaxing with Sissy Spacek's smashing of a plate on the kitchen floor, then rolling heavily into the intensity of the inevitable but shocking conclusion.
Spacek's character describes the torture of the emotional rollercoaster she feels after the murder of her son: "It comes in waves, and then nothing... like a rest in music - no sound, but so loud." Thusly she describes director Todd Field's unique story-telling style. Much of his film seems to take place in that musical rest.
The first and last acts are vaguely sprinkled with a hauntingly beautiful score by Thomas Newman. But the center and longest act is void of score, leaving us to grapple with the non-cinematic, chillingly real emotions that these characters seem to be sharing directly with (or hiding distinctly from) the viewer.
Cinematically speaking, the story is like an extremely well-crafted painting where the smallest, seemingly insignificant details are made noticeable in a device used by Field to allow us to peer deeper into the emotions set within the scene or shot - not merely at the shot itself.
Unanswered questions and vague silences, which would never work in a more contrived picture, speak volumes here, adding shape and depth to the overall story. And while some might see this film as morality play boosting corporal punishment and an "eye for an eye" mentality, ultimately it plays more as a story that tugs at the heartstrings and plays on one's fears purely for the sake of entertainment. As much as one could look for moral opinions in Shakespeare's "Hamlet", we moreover come away with an epic story told through masterful techniques - just as easily as with `In The Bedroom'.
"In The Bedroom" is not a Hollywood action-flick. This is not a summer-sizzle-fest or anything fitting of such tacky terminology. This is a perfect example of modern Film-as-Art, a classically crafted story told by modestly stylized means, and it's good to see such quality work emerging in this era so saturated with cinematic cliché.
Although quite unique, the film did bring to mind several other films that seem to compliment its style and mood: Todd Haynes' "Far From Heaven", Udayan Prasad's "My Son The Fanatic", and Robert Redford's "Ordinary People". All are films that explore the dynamics of extreme challenge and change in the lives of thoroughly defined characters. `In The Bedroom', however, seems to stand out in this company as the example of a masterpiece.