This is not the first time director Jon Jost has made a close study of the repressed underlayers of the American consciousness, and in particular of the working class male; SURE FIRE (1994) and JON JOST'S FRAMEUP (1995) covered similar volatile terrain. THE BED YOU SLEEP IN has much in
common with Jost's previous work--the stylized realism; the documentary-like mise-en-scene; the slow, analytic study of American life; and the shocking and tragic conclusion.
Centered in a small logging town in the Pacific Northwest, the film follows Ray (Tom Blair), a perfect specimen of the ordinary, through several weeks of life. Ray's logging business is failing due to Japanese competition and the actions of environmentalists protecting an endangered owl. Ray also
has a typical private life: his wife Jean (Ellen McLaughlin), and his love of fly-fishing. In contrast to the objective discourse of the men, the unhappy wives in Ray's community share dark secrets and despairs in the quiet of their failing homes, revealing their painful vulnerability, intimacy,
The boredom of this rural lifestyle is shattered by a tragic plot twist. The Blairs' daughter, away at college, sends Jean a letter in which she confesses to having been molested by her father in her teens. Ray denies the claim and refuses to let his grieving wife visit their troubled child. One
day at work he receives a phone call from his daughter's boyfriend. He listens quietly and with cold disbelief to what the boy has to say, then jumps into his truck and heads home. A flashback juxtaposed over the passing landscape reveals the face of the boyfriend as he cries into the telephone
the news that the daughter has committed suicide.
When Ray arrives home, he finds his wife lying motionless on the kitchen floor. He flees to the lake and splashes his face with water, holds a rifle to his head, and fires. The camera lingers on the corpse, the bleeding head, the impassive silence of the natural surrounding.
As in his previous works, Jost highlights a moral concern for the relationship between the personal and the social; the danger of the hidden and the repressed; and the ability of a lie to undermine entire lives and social orders.
The most riveting quality of Jost's work is the primary role that form plays in establishing the force of somewhat random events. The camera spends an unusual amount of time absorbing details--each inorganic item in the local diner is observed in depth, from the salt shakers to the curves of the
counter. Jost films rural America like a road surveyor, setting up a static camera on any intersection and letting the film roll as cars motor past and children ride by on bikes. Then he moves it somewhere else. Gradually, what emerges is a tapestry of images that forces the spectator to examine
the depths of meaning hidden in commonplace, day-to-day existence. (Adult Situations.)
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- Released: 1995
- Rating: NR
- Review: This is not the first time director Jon Jost has made a close study of the repressed underlayers of the American consciousness, and in particular of the working class male; SURE FIRE (1994) and JON JOST'S FRAMEUP (1995) covered similar volatile terrain. TH… (more)