In the Bedroom

Director: Todd Field
Screenwriters: Robert Festinger, Todd Field

Institute History

  • 2001 Sundance Film Festival


In a culture of excess and redundancy, the director who exercises restraint and allows his story to develop slowly and subtly faces fears about audience attention spans and critics' restlessness. However, when the work is as captivating as Todd Field's In the Bedroom, the payoff for using a feather instead of a hammer is a consummate refinement that makes for an unforgettable film experience.

With a delicate and masterful touch that belies the fact that this is his feature debut, Field has created an emotionally enveloping drama that reveals the inner workings of an upper-middle-class New England family when faced with sudden tragedy. This methodically constructed portrait of the intimate dynamics of a Waspish, comfortable, doctor's family, the Fowlers, and the rather cloistered community they live in (in many ways, the American ideal), demonstrates a rare perceptiveness that pays close attention to the nuances and motivations of social class, mores, and generational values. The result is a persuasively realistic film from start to finish.

Yet In the Bedroom is impressive and potent storytelling not because it relies on distanced observation and ethereal imagery but because, when it grabs you, it doesn't let go until you're limp with emotion and awash with introspective recognition. The quality of the performances, particularly by Tom Wilkinson, Sissy Spacek, and Marisa Tomei in a crucial supporting role, is outstanding, and the production values shimmer with the Good Machine stamp of quality. In the Bedroom is a film that richly deserves to be seen. Without giving away any hint about its plot, enjoy the experience.

— Geoffrey Gilmore

Screening Details

Sundance Film Festival Awards

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