A college boy is home with his parents for the summer and starts dating an older woman with two children. It’s not official yet, but she plans to divorce her husband, whose family owns a large local business. He becomes jealous, angry and violent. The boy’s aging parents try to warn their son about the dangers of fooling around with a married woman. But the mother tries to preach too much and the father secretly envies his son. When tragedy strikes, life is completely changed, becomes unbearable and drives people to do crazy things.
This film is completely charged with emotion and it is the driving force to the end. That’s about all I can say without revealing any spoilers, so for those who want a fresh view, stop here. All others proceed.
The bulk of In the Bedroom is about the boy’s parents trying to move on after the murder of their son. Yes, he dies early on. If you’re upset, I warned you, remember? Most of their grieving is accompanied by silence. The movie is tragically quiet. All around the couple are reminders of the youth they’ve lost. All their friends have children and grandchildren and their blood won’t live on. It is heart wrenching.
Everything changes after their son dies. Their cute old couple relationship turns on a dime to very cold and quiet. It seems they sit on the couch staring blankly at the television for days. Friends don’t know what to say around them anymore. Their solemn spirits even show through the mother’s work when her choir girls walk into the Labor Day concert with candles. The whole picnic crowd looks as cheerful as tombstones in a graveyard.
This is a story of loss and grief and anguish. And you may wish that the couple will just move to Florida to bask in the sunshine through their golden years and tell proud stories of their son. Don’t get your hopes up. It’s not that kind of movie.
One of the best scenes works like an emotional explosion. Ruth and Matt finally talk about their son and what they say to each other is shocking. Every pent up piece of anger, regret and blame is thrown out of the bag and it’s a little scary to watch. It’s the few scenes that blow the walls down like that that gave both Tom Wilkinson and Sissy Spacek Oscar nominations.
If you’re wondering where the title of the film comes from, think of an old lobster trapper’s saying. For those not familiar with lobster lingo don’t worry, you’ll catch it in the first few minutes of the film. Remember, two is company, three’s a crowd.
Now, this film may not stir the soul of an average young person, but I hope it does. Mostly, I recommend this to older couples, and hope that they have sunnier days than those depicted here. For you young people, see it anyway. Maybe with your parents, but be ready for those teary eyes to look at you with some gratitude and brace for a hug. They might need one.
“He was with her not because of me. He went there because of you. Because you are so controlling, so overbearing, so angry, that he was it! That he was our only son!”