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Door in the Floor, The  (2004)

 

Rating: R

Distributor: Universal Studios Home Video

Release Date: December 14, 2004
Review posted: December 16, 2004

 

Reviewed by Greg Malmborg

 

SYNOPSIS

 

The Door in the Floor is a haunting film adapted for the screen from a best-selling novel by author John Irving that follows the lives of eccentric, famous children’s book author and illustrator Ted Cole (Jeff Bridges) and his wife Marion (Kim Basinger) during one very crucial summer.

 

Ted and Marion are on the verge of divorce due to their inability to reconnect and support one another after the loss of their sons in a horrific car accident.  Marion is unable to fully love and nurture her daughter because she feels like they only had her in order to fill the void left from their sons, while Ted buries his grief in booze and screwing around with the rich Hampton wives under the guise of using them as models for his illustrations.  Their lives are slowly drifting further and further apart. 

 

Ted takes on an assistant for the summer, a local high school kid, Eddie (Jon Foster), an aspiring writer who is anxious to learn what he can from Ted.  Eddie helps feed Marion’s need to nurture and it eventually leads into a dangerous sexually driven relationship.  Eddie’s arrival sparks a series of events and turmoil in the Cole’s life that sends them into a journey exploring their own sensuality, their grief and their loss of passion for each other and life in general.

 

CRITIQUE

 

The Door in the Floor is a wrenching tale of sexual betrayal and healing full of terrific performances, beautiful cinematography, and solid direction, but it just doesn’t add up to anything of significance.  The story just failed to pull me in, which is a shame based on the incredible performance from one of the best actors working today, Jeff Bridges. 

 

The main issue with the story was that it was difficult to feel anything for these characters as they are just far too isolated from reality and the story relies upon cliché and familiarity.  There are also too many things pushing the viewer away from the characters and almost nothing to pull you in.  The relationship between Eddie and Marion has such a strongly incestuous flavor that it turned me off to both characters.  And since there was almost nothing redeeming about Marion or Ted, I didn’t care one way or another if they pulled through.  The use of shock value to generate a response feels incredibly forced.  Mimi Rodgers baring it all, Marion’s daughter walking in on her and Eddie having sex in a compromising position, Ted’s love of rap music…it’s almost ridiculous how far the film goes to shock the viewer.  But instead, it does the opposite.  It places the viewer so far away from these characters as to not generate any feeling at all.

 

Bridges gives an absolutely amazing performance as Ted and it is just incredible that he makes you care at all about this loathsome and unappealing character.  Bridges takes charge of every scene he is in.  He is truly one of the best actors in film today.  His performance almost single-handedly makes this a worthwhile view and should be considered come Oscar season.  Basinger is also very good, giving one of the best performances in her career.  Her haunting beauty and deeply pained expressions leave an indelible, lasting impression.  The supporting cast is also quite superb.  Especially newcomer Ben Foster who really nails the innocence, initial meekness and emerging strength of Eddie.  Mimi Rodgers is also very good as one of Ted’s “models” doing a lot with very little (and leaving it all out there).  If only the film had the strong story and emotional current needed to blend all of these amazing performances into something worthwhile.

 

The film is solidly directed by Tod Williams who obviously works well with actors and he definitely captures a nice sense of place and position.  The film is just beautiful to look at with gorgeous cinematography and locations.

 

If The Door in the Floor as a film delivered anywhere near the level of depth, detail and emotion that Bridges brings to his character then it could have been something truly special.  Instead we get a beautiful looking film full of great acting that relies on shocks, clichés and familiarity to move us and fails to generate any feeling at all.

 

THE VIDEO

 

The transfer is amazingly clear and crisp, the colors are vibrant and lucid, and the scenery is stunning.  It is a strong, quality video transfer.

 

THE AUDIO

 

The audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 and it is outstandingly clear and perfectly balanced.

 

THE EXTRAS

 

Feature Commentary with Director Tod Williams and the Production Team – Williams discusses the film as though it’s a masterpiece and of how incredible it was to get to work with such an amazing story.  If only that were true.  He does recognize the amazing performances and discusses some interesting aspects of making the film.  Various members of the production crew join him.

 

Author John Irving: From Novel to Screen – This is an interesting extra on what is involved in bringing a novel to the screen.  This film is actually only a third of the novel, only the first third.  The novel is actually narrated by the daughter and follows her life as well.  Maybe the filmmakers should have tried capturing the whole novel.

 

Anatomy of a Scene – This is an episode from The Sundance Channel’s original show that takes particular scenes from films and breaks them down, interviewing the cast and crew.  This is a very good show and this was a good episode.

 

The Making of The Door in the Floor This is a nice making of documentary interviewing the cast and crew on location, including some audition tapes and a nice interview with Bridges.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

 

The Door in the Floor has some of the most riveting and moving performances of the year and is a solidly directed film, but the story fails to generate any emotion or gain any depth of character and resorts to shock value and clichés.

 

VERDICT: RENT IT

 

Home | Back to Top

 

:: The Disc

 

:: Disc Ratings

 

THE MOVIE

5

THE VIDEO

8

THE AUDIO

7

THE EXTRAS

5

OVERALL

5

 

:: Merchandise

 

FILM SCORE

Buy the CD!

 

THE SCREENPLAY

Buy the Script!

 

THE NOVEL

Buy the Book!