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In the Bedroom

Director:Todd Field
Writers:Rob Festinger and Tom Field
Miramax Films; R; 131 minutes
Cast:Sissy Spacek, Tom Wilkinson, William Mapother

Don't let the wishy-washy title fool you: In the Bedroom is one of those rare American movies built from unflinching drama. The New England film begins with Frank Fowler (Nick Stahl), a breezy college student having a summer affair with an older woman (Marisa Tomei). Frank's parents (Sissy Spacek and Tom Wilkinson) lightly disapprove, for she has two children and her divorce from her brute of a husband has yet to be finalized. The irate husband soon proves to be a lethal threat. He kills Frank in a jealous rage. He's freed on bail soon after. The rest of the film follows Mom and Dad as tragedy pushes them beyond the breaking point.

First-time director Todd Field (he played Tom Cruise's pianist buddy in Eyes Wide Shut) pressurizes the scenario from coal into a hard, glittering gem. Along the way he captures Sissy Spacek's best performance to date. Impeccable acting gives In the Bedroom an artful seriousness of which few contemporary U.S. films can boast.

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