Todd Field‘s masterful In The Bedroom is almost exactly 20 years old — the anniversary is on 11.23.21. Just about every scene is perfect, but there’s one that’s slightly off because of Marisa Tomei‘s over-acting. It’s a court testimony scene in which her character, the bereaved Natalie Strout, recounts the day when her estranged abusive husband (William Mapother‘s Richard Strout) killed her boyfriend (Nick Stahl‘s Frank Fowler) with a pistol.
Delivering this kind of testimony would be painful for anyone, but most people would do what they can to grim up and keep it together in front a filled courtroom. Tomei’s slow testimony plus the constant weeping and sniffling is too actorish. You’re sitting there and going “Jesus, stop selling the emotion and get on with your testimony already…give it a rest.”
But the following scene in which Tomei awkwardly attempts to apologize to Fowler’s mother (Sissy Spacek) and is decisively, violently rebuffed, is perfect.
“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.” — “My Lost Youth,” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow