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Noteworthy Single Mom Character #1

October 17, 2008

One of the most harrowing single mom roles I’ve ever witnessed an actor portray was Marissa Tomei’s character in the 2001 film In the Bedroom.

If you haven’t rented this movie and you are a parent of any type, go rent it. Its honestly one of my favorite movies, dispite how disturbing and intense it is. 

I like dramas, but mostly I like movies about a place. The setting of the film is wicked important to me, because it can be a character in itself. Sometimes the setting of a film literally molds the character’s personalities, actions and can change the entire plot of the film.

In the Bedroom takes place in a coastal town in Maine, so if you’ve ever lived in New England, you can understand what kind of a role that plays in a movie: Red Sox games act as the main soundtrack of the movie, as do lobster boat motors, thick New England accents (seriously, there is hardly any music in this film, other than the natural sounds in each scene).

Tomei’s character is a newly single mom who can’t get divorced due to “Maine’s crazy laws.” She’s got two sons and an ass that routinely gets oogled by the local dudes. She’s also got a crazy baby daddy as well, who is the son of the richest family in the small town. Tomei shacks up with Nick Stahl, an aspiring architect who barely has his feet wet in college. Stahl is also the only son of the beloved town doctor (Wilkinson) and music teacher (Spacek), and his relationship with the single mom becomes hot gossip when he starts taking a more serious role in her life. Major darkness descends on the film from there.

Even though the movie isn’t necessarily about a single mom, her role is pivotal in the story. Her place in the small town, the family of her boyfriend and her ex’s life is painfully obvious. She is lusted after, yet unwanted. She is tainted, yet admired. The dynamic between the young, single mother, and the married, senior mother of her boyfriend is mesmerizing.

“She’s such a brave girl,” the boyfriend’s mother sympathizes, yet whispers her husband, “You know this isn’t the first time she’s messed around.”

This movie hard to watch. It starts off fast and comes to a screeching halt, where you are left to sort through the aftermath of the single mom-created climax. The first time I saw this movie, it shook me to the core, and I saw it way before I was ever a single mom. Now that my life has changed so much, the movie has an even deeper meaning.

One of my struggles as a single parent is the fear that this movie so eloquently presents: How dangerous is it to involve someone new in your twisted and haunted past?

I’m still coming to grips with the pain and suffering (and I’m sure everyone deals with this differently) of my past. I’m still trying to sort through all the events and decisions that were made, almost a year later. Personally, I can’t even imagine throwing a new relationship into that stew, which is why I was so baffled by Rooferman’s immediate proclamation of love for another, right after he had told me it was over. How can someone move on so quickly? Maybe I’m just too sensitive, while the more resilient members of society are the ones who are able to continue with their lives without a blink of an eye.

In the Bedroom plays on so many emotions: love, loss, revenge, fear, motherhood, rage, forgiveness, pain, ignorance and strength; pretty much every emotion I’ve experienced in the last two years. This movie also makes you think “What would I do if I were faced with that situation? How would I cope?”

More Noteworthy Single Mom Characters to come….

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13 Comments leave one →
  1. October 17, 2008 10:43 am

    I saw that movie when it first came out, and haven’t thought about is since. I remember enjoying it, and thinking it was a well-made film, but didn’t have particular relevance to my life.

    But I am clearly going to have to go back and watch it now…

    I look forward to more of these NSMCs!

  2. October 17, 2008 10:46 am

    I haven’t seen the movie, and now I won’t; ever seen Where the Heart Is? Where the single mom gets the shit beat out of her and her SON is raped by a boyfriend? yeah. we are pieces of shit, worth treating badly by men, by society, by OTHER WOMEN, and peopel wonder why we are so bitter. Hm.

  3. October 17, 2008 11:27 am

    Nope…haven’t seen it…but I will now! :) Hmmmm….I wonder if my perspective on it will be the same as yours? hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm….. interesting……

  4. October 17, 2008 11:37 am

    Kori- That scene in Where the Heart Is is another example of the media’s glamorization of violence against women. I was trying not to give away the movie, but In the Bedroom really has nothing to do with that. Its a very unexpected story, based on a book, and yes there is violence in it, but its not what you think.

  5. October 17, 2008 12:47 pm

    I will have to check it out. It sounds good, even though I’m not a mama. And yea, it’s the same guy I was telling you about last time I saw you =) Love ya!

  6. October 17, 2008 12:52 pm

    I’m interested now. I’ll have to watch the movie.

  7. October 17, 2008 1:06 pm

    I know how you feel about involving someone new into your life. This subject is something that I grapple with as well. My life with my daughter is special and sacred, and I can hardly imagine ever being comfortable allowing someone in. I haven’t dated in the 2 years that I have been single after my breakup with my ex, and sometimes I feel like I should just wait until she is 18 to even consider a relationship. The baggage, pain and suffering I think gets easier over time, but with any new relationship, things will come out of the woodwork. All I can guess is that for me, (and you) when the right person comes along at the right time, letting that person in will be hard but right. I love the movie “In the Bedroom, and like you I watched it before I was a single mom. I think I need to revisit it. I think that our situations are very similar, since my ex was involved with someone immediately after our breakup (technically during…the bastard) and this person is still around and spends time with my daughter. I think it is weird and inappropriate, and even though this breakup with my ex was for the best and I am happier for it, it is still extremely hurtful,even after 2 years. I completely commiserate with your surprise over Rooferman.

  8. October 18, 2008 10:53 am

    As much as people like Dr. Laura have tried to make rules for us single moms about love, the truth is, there’s no one right answer. Sure, there are some wrong ones, but the right ones are harder to decipher.
    I’ll add that movie to my queue.

  9. October 18, 2008 4:25 pm

    I haven’t seen the movie, but always thought Marisa Tomei was an amazing actor. I’ll need to watch for it.

  10. October 18, 2008 11:41 pm

    love the movie,
    make peace with the past, its gone before you know.
    be well sister.

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