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Posted by gustav at 01:01PM, Saturday, December 01st, 2001

In the Bedroom

At the movies, preciousness is, unlike in "The Phantom Menace," only a temporary evil, relieved by bloodshed.

Despite the imminent schlockfest portended by the combination of too-cute acting (mostly on the part of Nick Stahl) and horrifically bad attempts at Maine accents and idioms, "Bedroom" heroically veers from nauseating to interesting about a third of the way through, when the character played by Stahl is, at last, mercifully killed. From this point on, the story is a well-acted look at a middle-aged couple's dealing with grief, and all the recrimination and denial entailed. Action-wise, not much happens, which is refreshing while the multiplex is dominated by movies that attempt to squeeze as much of a four-hundred-page book's plot into three hours as possible. Sissy Spacek and, particularly, Tom Wilkinson, as the grieving parents, give overall strong and well-acted performances, often inflected with subtlety and communicating a lot in a glance or a smile. Towards the middle, director Todd Field uses a lot of fast-cut vignettes -- Spacek staring at the tv, watching late-night talk-shows; the wind blowing through the lace curtains of an open window. These tend towards the precious, as do the overwrought attempts at local color. Overall, though, a good job, if it does make for a disturbing two hours.

Special kudos to Marisa Tomei for doing the only believable "accent" (excepting, of course, Wilkinson's better-American-than-the-Americans), which, inexplicably, was more Epping, New Hampshire than Camden, Maine.

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