The Bed You Sleep In

The Bed You Sleep In (1993)
Vanguard Films
Cast: Tom Blair, Ellen McLaughlin

Do you ever come away from a movie feeling totally bewildered and unsure of what you just experienced? If you enjoy that feeling, then you’ll love the bizarre independent film, ’The Bed You Sleep In.’ To give you an idea of what ’The Bed You Sleep In’ is like, imagine a David Lynch film (actually, imagine ’Twin Peaks’) and then make that film much slower. That’s what this movie is like. ’The Bed You Sleep In’ focuses on Ray (Tom Blair) and Jean (Ellen McLaughlin). This couple lives in a small town in Oregon, where Ray runs a local sawmill. For the first hour of the film, we witness Ray dealing with the financial hardships of the sawmill and indulging in his love of fly-fishing. At the one-hour mark, the plot shows up when Jean receives a letter from their daughter, who is away at college. In the letter, Ray is accused of sexual abuse. Ray, of course, denies this, but word soon spreads throughout the town and Ray and Jean are faced with the toughest challenge of their lives.

At nearly two hours, ’The Bed You Sleep In’ is like an all-night fever-dream that one can’t wake up from. The film meanders between the story (?!) and random shots of the sawmill, the river, and the forest. Several dialogue scenes play out without the actors even being on screen. We are treated to a long shot of running water while two actors say their lines. Writer/director/photographer/editor Jon Jost has certainly created a unique film. The first hour of ’The Bed You Sleep In’ has the feel of a documentary gone wrong, as we get an overview of the town and the lumber business. Once the letter arrives and Jean begins to distrust Ray, the film picks up a bit, plot-wise, but the sluggish pace and simply bizarre shooting style make the film very distant and cold, and nearly impossible to get involved in. Still, ’The Bed You Sleep In’ definitely breaks the mold of the typical arthouse fare that we’ve been treated to lately.

’The Bed You Sleep In’ comes to us on DVD courtesy of Vanguard Cinema, a company known for its obscure independent finds. The film is presented in a non-anamorphic widescreen and is letterboxed at 1.85:1. Unfortunately, the image, while being crisp, is very fuzzy and has a squeezed look to it. At times, the picture looks like streaming video, having a pixelated look. Also, there is some flickering during several scenes. Most of these problems occur early on in the film, and some of the later scenes are quite clear. Still, the look of the film makes one wonder if the letterbox framing is correct. The DVD box for ’The Bed You Sleep In’ advertises ’Hi-Fi Stereo’. The sound that I experienced sounded more like digital mono, as most of the sound was concentrated on the center channel. There was some distinct sounds from the front channels, but not very much. There are no special features on the disc.