Making a small ki i n 9
It’s early days for the Oscars, but many are predicting multiple wins for Todd Field’s bereavement
drama In The Bedroom. Words: Tom Dawson
ive years ago Todd Field was in London for the
shoot of Kubrick‘s Eyes Wide Shut. in which he
was cast as the piano player Nick Nightingale. Over dinner one evening his co-star Tom Cruise asked him whether or not he was planning to go back to directing (Field‘s short film Nannie And Alex had already won a special jury prize at Sundance).
‘I told him about this short story by the New England writer Andre Dubus that had haunted me.‘ recalls Field. ‘l'd read it back in 1992. and it had taken my breath away and completely shocked me. Tom told me that I should go and track it down when I got back. I knew he was right. and so that‘s what I did.‘
The short story in question. Killings. concerned a bereaved father seeking revenge for his son’s murder. ‘The two main characters reminded me of my parents in some way.’ says the writer-director. ‘I grew up in the north-west of America as opposed to the north-east. but there's a similar stoicism and emotional reticence to the people. When I first read it. I'd just come out of a really tough three year period. where a terrible tragedy had struck in my own life. I had finally got back on my feet and I guess that was something else I was responding to in this story.”
Field‘s adaptation of Killings. which is titled In The Berlrmnn. is an impressively acted work. both
subtle and lyrical. that has deservedly been tipped for
Oscar nominations. Paradoxically. while it seems
20 THE LIST ‘ /' ill .Jil'l 2:0“)?
‘The movie gods must have been smiling on us’
The film Tom Cruise pushed Todd Field to make
quintessentially American in its Maine setting. In The Berlmmn‘s sombre tone and unhurried pacing and lack of closure place it in a liuropean art-house tradition.
'Iiuropean films have been a big inﬂuence on me.’ says Field. ‘I think American films are invariably about people in extraordinary circumstances. whereas Iiuropean cinema is about extraordinary characters in ordinary circumstances. Maine. however. where I live. isn't like the rest of America: it's provincial and anachronistic because it‘s not permeated by popular culture. People there. unless their words are going to improve on silence. keep their mouths closed.’
Along with other such recent films as (Km/er The Sand and The Son's Room. In The Bedroom demonstrates how hopelessly unprepared we are for the sudden death of our loved ones. Field remembers this from his own childhood. ‘I)eath was treated as a dirty. messy. stinky thing: it was swept under the rug and not dealt with.’ he says. 'There is no formula for grieving. and now it has become a spectator sport. You find people analysing and saying: “Are they grieving too much or not enough'.’". Iiveryone makes their attempt to comfort and we‘re not trained to do that. And the people who are grieving end up comforting those who are comforting them. because there is no way to comfort the grieving.’
Having watched the film's beautifully judged lead performances. it‘s something of a surprise to learn that the linglish actor Tom Wilkinson was cast in the key role of the husband to Sissy Spacek’s character just days before rehearsals began. ‘It was probably the least cerebral casting choice I made.‘ says Field. ‘but as Sissy said. the movie gods must have been smiling on us. because her and Tom fitted together so beautifully. Sitting in the editing room. I was thinking these people have been married their whole life. You couldn't find two people who are more different — Sissy is from Texas. Tom is from Iingland — yet I don't doubt that their characters have been together forever.‘
In The Bedroom opens Fri 25 Jan.
Lights, camera, action . . .
SCOTIAND'S HORROR FILM Festival Dead By Dawn has announced some of its programme for this year's weekend-long event at Edinburgh's Filmhouse 29-31 March. Maintaining its commitment to screening. if you'll eXCLise the pun. the more Cutting edge horror cinema. Dead By Dawn Will once more showcase Eastern cinema with Shugo Fuji's A Living Hell Simoyama Ten's St John's Wort and Ryuhei Kitamura's Versus. A few of the festival faVOurite auteurs return with old and news films; Wes Craven‘s original Nightmare On Elm Street. Stuart Gordon's Dagon and the superbly named Shaky Gonzalez with the superbly titled One Hel/ Of A Christmas. Further info is available from festival director Adele Hartley at adeleia;deadbydawn.co.uk
EDINBURGH’S CAMEO Cinema hosts two special events this fortnight. On the opening night (18 January) of Mira Nair’s excellent Anglo-Indian film Monsoon Wedding, the cinema has organised a Punjabi wedding dance, henna painting and an Indian buffet. On 7 February the Cameo hosts the Scottish charity premiere of Iris, the story of Iris Murdoch and John Bayley’s enduring love starring Judi Dench, Kate Winslet and Jim Broadbent. One of the stars is expected to attend and the proceeds go to Alzheimer Scoﬂand.
Kate Winlset plays Young Iris Murdoch
A FOOTNOTE: THE CAMEO Cinema announce a final call for entries to the prestigious Jim Poole Short Film Award. The deadline for submiss‘ions i821) January. full details on 998-1141.