For a man who has only released two feature films Todd Field has gained an impressive reputation in Hollywood. He has been widely praised by critics as one of the most accomplished writer directors working in cinema today and displays a mastery of his craft that makes me wish he released films on a more regular basis!
Field started his career as an actor, working with Woody Allen on Radio Days and moving on to work with Stanley Kubrick, Victor Nunez and Carl Franklin. He then went on to direct short films and his work was exhibited in the Museum of Modern Art in New York. He has so far received a Jury Prize at Sundance, an Independent Spirit Award and awards from the National Board of Review, LA Film Critics Association and the British and American Film Institutes.
I remembered hearing about In The Bedroom when it was released in 2001 as it garnered five Academy Award nominations plus a host of other accolades from critics. It stars Sissy Spacek, Tom Wilkinson, Nick Stahl and Marisa Tomei and is set in Maine. Frank Fowler (Stahl), an ambitious young man from a good family, falls in love with Natalie Strout (Tomei), an older woman with two kids and an abusive ex-husband Richard (played by William Mapother). Tragedy strikes in the middle of a heated argument and the characters must come to terms with their relationships and how justice will be played out in a small town. The film is brilliant with exceptional performances from Spacek and Wilkinson in particular.
Field followed this up five years later with Little Children, starring Kate Winslet, Patrick Wilson and Jennifer Connelly. Kate Winslet plays Sarah Pierce, a housewife with a small daughter who find herself drawn to Brad Adamson (Wilson), a househusband with a young son who plays in the same neighbourhood park as her daughter. The two find much in common and struggle with their obvious attraction to one another. A second plot strand follows Ronnie McGorvey (Jackie Earle Haley), a convicted paedophile who has moved back into the nieghbourhood to live with his mother and is the target of a hate campaign by Larry (Noah Emmerich), a disgraced former police officer.
The film deals with parenting, with the boredom and apathy that can happen in longterm relationships, with the guilt and passion that go hand in hand with an affair. The writing is excellent and the characters are flawed and utterly believable. Winslet’s performance is magnificent, cementing her status as one of the most skilled actresses in Hollywood, and she rightfully received an Academy Award nomination for it.
According to IMDb, Field’s next project, entitled Creed of Violence and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, is in pre-production and will hopefully see a release this year. I for one can’t wait to see it.