Killings vs. In the Bedroom I really enjoyed the short story “Killings” written by Andre Dubus. I felt the story was very dark and depressing but what intrigued me most about the story was how close to real life it was. Todd Field’s interpretation “In the Bedroom” was an excellent rendition of the short story. He captured the story very well and really brought it to life on the big screen. The short story really portrays the society we live in. You hear every day about domestic violence that results in someone getting hurt or killed.
The story tells about a young man involved with a woman separated from her jealous husband that results in the young man’s death. The parents of the young man play a big role in the story as well. Killings starts off with the young man Frank Fowler already killed and goes directly into the aftermath of his death. In the Bedroom begins with the relationship of Frank and Natalie while they were dating. I think the way the movie began was better because it lets you see more into the relationship of Frank and Natalie.
The movie allows you to get attached to the characters which I feel caused more of an impact when Frank was killed by Natalie’s husband Richard. The movie also shows more detail of why Frank’s parents were against his relationship with Natalie. Marrero 2 The short story gives more back ground into the type of person Richard Strout was. It explains more of his upbringing. The movie mainly portrays him as the angry jealous husband but not much of his background was explained except that he came from a wealthy family that owns a local company.
Both versions do show him as a jealous cold hearted individual that shows no remorse for what he had done to Frank. The part of the short story where Frank comes home after having his first confrontation with Richard was a bit different from the movie. The part when Frank comes home and he’s all bruised up was the same except in the short story Matt tells Frank to “press charges”(50). He also says to Frank “What’s to stop him from doing it again? ”(50). In the movie, Ruth Fowler is the one who says this to Frank and Matt. She is upset that Frank and his father are so laid back about the whole incident.
I think this scene was key as to why Ruth had so much animosity towards Matt after Frank died. One of the qualities of the film that I thought was very clever was how Director Todd Field chose to not use any background music. The majority of movies use music to help bring out what the scene is about but this movie didn’t do that and it worked. It was almost like watching a reality show. It concentrated on the characters and the story line to keep viewers glued to the screen. You knew that something would eventually happen but you had no idea when and how.
There was no soft or powerful music in any of the scenes to give you an idea of what was going to happen. It was excellent filming with no special effects or music. Many scenes showing Matt Fowler and his wife’s marriage falling apart were silent and the absence of background music made those scenes powerful. I think it helped to keep the audience in touch with the pain that the parents were experiencing from the death of their son. Marrero 3 The cinematography of the film was also very instrumental on the overall feeling of the movie. There wasn’t much color in the film, almost as if it was a cloudy day in every scene.
The way the people dressed and even how the homes looked were very drab and bland. I think this helped to demonstrate the sadness that the parents and Natalie felt after Frank was killed. Kind of the same effect background music would have on a film. If you want the audience to feel sadness while watching a particular scene there would be sad music in the background. The entire story was sad and the cinematography helped convey that in the film. Another difference between the movie and the film was the part when Frank was shot by Richard Strout.
In the short story Frank was already at Mary Ann’s house watching television with the boys in the living room while she was in the kitchen. Richard walked through the front door and shot Frank several times in front of the boys (53). In the movie, Frank was shot in the living room after coming to see if Natalie and the boys were ok after a confrontation she just had with Richard. Natalie and the boys were upstairs while Frank went downstairs to keep Richard out of the house. Richard found a way in and shot Frank several times. This was such a graphic scene, just the same as the short story.
The way the film portrayed this scene worked very well. It really caused drama and suspense in the film. It was a scary moment that was very disturbing to watch. Near the end of the short story and the film was when Matt held Richard at gun point. Matt decides to take matters into his own hands because the courts failed to convict Richard. It was also causing Matt’s wife emotional stress seeing Richard in town on several occasions. This was a great part to both the story and the film because it left the reader and the viewer wondering what was going to happen next.
You weren’t sure whether Matt would kill Richard or let him go. Marrero 4 It was an intense moment in both the film and short story when Richard was driving while Matt steadily held the gun to Richard’s head, telling him to “Drive slowly,” Don’t try to get stopped” (55). You could feel the suspense as to what might happen next. Richard was clearly scared but all the while held true to his belief that he was justified for what he did to Frank. Just the fact that he told Matt “He was making it with my wife” (56) while Matt is pointing a gun at him shows he had no remorse for his actions.
Matt continued to mentally manipulate Richard into thinking he would be set free to live his life on the run. Every time Richard would ask Matt what he was doing, Matt would not give him an answer. He tells Richard to pack his suitcase once they reached his home and then went back into the vehicle to drive some more. Matt had Richard drive to Matt’s best friend’s property. This is where he killed Richard. In the film Matt had Richard get out of the car and shot him on impulse. In the short story Matt told Richard to walk with his suitcase for which Richard dropped it and started to run. That is when Matt shot him several times.
In both the film and the movie, Richard was buried on Matt’s best friend’s property. Both the short story and the film had you glued in suspense. The short story went into more detail as to what Matt was psychologically going through after killing Richard. During Matt’s drive home the author described how Matt was feeling about what he had just done. Matt was reliving the moment in his mind when he shot Richard, feeling as if someone else did it and not him. Matt’s best friend in both the movie and the short story was very instrumental on helping him carry out his revenge against Richard.
The two of them shared a strong bond of friendship and brotherhood being they both served in the military together. They both trusted each other unconditionally knowing that this was something they both would keep a secret until the end. Their military background which was not outwardly mentioned in the story but was an important Marrero 5 factor allowing them to carry out Richard’s murder. In Matt’s mind he felt he had no other choice then to kill Richard and he was fine with his decision. The end of the story was when Matt gets home and see’s his wife waiting for him.
In the short story she said to him “Did you do it? ” (63). He tells her everything that took place and is very emotional about it, feeling sympathy for Richard’s girl friend and thinking of Frank and Mary Ann (Natalie in the film). In the film, Matt walks into the house and changes his clothes before going to the room where his wife is waiting. They don’t really speak of what happened. It is understood that Ruth knew what he did without even asking. For the first time since Frank’s death Ruth shows Matt affection by offering to make him breakfast.
The film ends with Matt lying in bed alone with a look of sadness on his face. Overall I felt Killings was excellent, fitting so much into a short story. The film was done extremely well illustrating the story but also added just enough to make it even more intriguing. Both the movie and the short story left you feeling a bit empty inside, as if you experienced the sorrow and pain that the parents were going through. There really wasn’t a happy ending in either version just an understanding of the pain that is caused by losing a child.