Hun 3, 2002

Outside the Bedroom

Seen anything good lately?

Well I have. The day after the dinner with team angas and the drinking session with Jol, I met Monica at the MRT station to see her off to Cavite.

She wanted to treat me to a movie first though. After I blushed a couple of times, we decided on "Death to Smoochy". It's off the playlist, so I chose "In the Bedroom" instead.

The film was a very meticulous adaptation of Andre Dubus' "Killings". The details count. Metaphor, poetry, and music play integral parts in the whole effort. But these elements are always used in context and never seem contrived. It is very interesting, for example, how Todd Field and his crew managed to get away with using lines from Longfellow's "My Lost Youth":

There are things of which I may not speak;
There are dreams that cannot die;
There are thoughts that make the strong heart weak,
And bring a pallor into the cheek,
And a mist before the eye.
And the words of that fatal song
Come over me like a chill:
"A boy's will is the wind's will
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts."

In high drama such as this, one would expect something like this to come into play in a eulogy, maybe during a rainy black umbrella burial. But we hear it in a poker game. And the effect is intensely somber. And you'll never guess where the title comes from. I won't spoil it for you but it's not in the bedroom. Or at least, not entirely.

I forgot how much I missed Monica and I would share insights and interpretations of the movies we watched during the college days. That is, until we fell into such a conversation over Hen Lin's siomai. She remarked on the impressive use of fade-to-black and the thrifty use of background music. I noted how that is entirely in keeping with Ruth's statement of how grief feels like the "rests" in music where the silences are so loud.

The musicality of the entire piece is explained there. Ruth (Sissy Spacek) is a choir teacher and so her metaphors are appropriate. The pieces rehearsed by her choir form the musical cemterpiece of the film. Her character was supposed to be, at times, the tense homemaker, the prying mother, the vacuous mourner, the scalding wife, and the silently determined justice-seeker. She plays it all so naturally. So seamlessly that she, in effect, becomes the eye to her husband's storm.

Marisa Tomei looked perfectly harassed. Still, her effortless grace especially as Natalie, single mother and youthful lover, lends credibility to the affections she draws from Frank (Nick Stahl). Tom Wilkinson does a great job being benign and sensitive as Matt Fowler. It is particularly important for the ending. He must make up for the focus that the character originally had in the book ("Killings" was written entirely in the point-of-view of Doc Fowler).

I hope I get to see this film again. I want to see the imagery of Field's frames again and how it works with the rest of the film. I understand how it can seem dreary and boring to some people but I feel the pace was justified. It's probably a no-no to see this movie after a long day. It's a good suggestion for any film to avoid jumping in somewhere in the middle, but with "In the Bedroom", it's a necessity.

Seen anything good lately?

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