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Overall Rating
3.58

Awesome: 13.21%
Worth A Look62.26%
Average: 7.55%
Pretty Bad: 3.77%
Total Crap: 13.21%

5 reviews, 23 user ratings


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Door in the Floor, The
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by Robert Flaxman

"Door to nowhere."
1 stars

A robust, complex narrative is not necessarily required to make an interesting film. There are plenty of movies out there that are character-driven and succeed. It does, however, help to have deep, interesting, or at least likable characters when trying this approach. Sadly, Tod Williamsí The Door in the Floor gets the worst of both worlds.

Writer Ted Cole (Jeff Bridges) and his wife Marion (Kim Basinger) are going through a rough patch in their marriage, and apparently have been ever since their sons were killed in a car accident some years before. Ted takes on Eddie OíHare (Jon Foster) as an assistant for the summer, largely because he needs someone to drive him around. Eddie is taken with Marion and the two end up in a sexual relationship.

Plot-wise, there just isnít that much going on in The Door in the Floor, but thatís not its problem. The problem is what fills the void left by the plot Ė flat, shallow characters who fail to convey any significant emotions, arenít likable or worth following, and, worst of all, donít actually change over the course of the film. That leaves us with two hours of, well, nothing Ė with no trajectory either to the plot or the charactersí movements in it, The Door in the Floor just lies there, hoping that if it shows enough sex no one will notice how boring it is.

Based on one section of John Irvingís novel A Widow for One Year, The Door in the Floor just feels like one of those movies where plots and depth from the source material were pulled out of the screenplay because there simply wasnít enough room for them, but their remnants were left behind in awkward fashion. Characters like Alice, the Colesí nanny, and Mrs. Vaughn, a subject of Tedís drawings, have just enough screen time that one senses they played larger roles in the book, but here their parts are minimal enough that they hardly seem necessary at all.

One of the first things stated in Irvingís novel is how much Eddie looks like the Colesí dead son Thomas; it is only mentioned late in The Door in the Floor and seemingly in passing. Of course, Eddieís resemblance to Thomas makes his affair with Marion Ė and her attitude toward him in general Ė quite unsettling indeed. Perhaps if we learned more about her character this choice would make more sense, but Williams almost seems to be taking pains to keep the filmís characters as enigmatic as possible. What, really, do we learn about Ted? Heís a childrenís author and heís something of a womanizer. Eddie? Heís an aspiring writer and a hormonal high school junior. Marion? A grieving mother, I guess. Not one of these characters exists in three dimensions. Itís bad enough that Williams doesnít do anything significant with what is there; the fact that so little is even there to begin with is much worse.

Bridges at least gives a strong performance, but heís the only one who does so and itís fairly irrelevant anyway. If The Door in the Floor actually raises a question worth discussing, itís this one: is there any real use behind a good acting performance when itís in service of a bad character? Bridges may be able to convince us that Ted is who Williams wants him to be, but thatís no one worth caring about in any way, not even a negative one; Ted may be a creep, but heís not an interesting enough creep to hate.

Neither Foster nor Basinger is particularly good, but then it doesnít matter much. Marion is so thin a character she may as well not exist, and while the film seems like the sort that should be setting up Eddie to have a major catharsis at some point during his summer with the Coles, itís not clear where that catharsis is supposed to be. We never get enough on the character to make any theoretical change noticeable; the Eddie who departs at the end of the summer might have a bit more self-confidence, but thatís hardly a shift around which to turn a film.

The film also tries to act as an exploration of grief, but here too it doesnít do nearly enough. Tedís response, engaging in affairs with women he proceeds to degrade, is treated almost farcically; a scene in which a woman he humiliated tries to run him down with her car and chases him with a knife is played for laughs, the only sequence in the movie for which that seems to be the case. Marionís is simply too one-note to be interesting.

Drearily plotted and inexcusably shallow, The Door in the Floor spends far too much time on the long road to nowhere. With no discernible change in any of the characters from the beginning of the film to the end, itís almost a perfect example of how not to write a dramatic screenplay. A spare plot may be okay, but no character development means no drama, and if thereís no drama, why should anyone watch in the first place?

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=10200&reviewer=385
originally posted: 12/18/05 10:50:32
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User Comments

1/07/11 evelyn hitten on all fours 5 stars
9/28/10 PAUL SHORTT INTELLIGENT DRAMA WITH A GOOD STAR PERFORMANCE 3 stars
7/28/06 drydock54321 has some good moments 3 stars
2/28/06 Sully Bridges has a killer ass.....I mean Basinger, yeah, that's who I meant 4 stars
8/16/05 ES As with the Skeleton key, you have to sit through a pile of boring to get to the good parts 4 stars
7/26/05 Laura Lee Macleod poignant, central performances very good, Basinger and Bridges are good together 4 stars
6/18/05 stage artistic, but not at all moving or interesting. job well done, but why? 3 stars
5/05/05 kaz had me thinking about the movie for ages afterwards 4 stars
3/11/05 Nick Boyd Jeff Bridges gives an Oscar worthy performance 4 stars
2/02/05 Lynde Foy OMG What a long drawn out psychobabble-of-a-movie--the ending is too funny- 2 stars
1/27/05 Judy Kappen Liked it a lot 4 stars
1/26/05 lucas good performance fro Jeff; lackluster filmmaking 1 stars
12/22/04 albert jeff bridges ,best living actor in the world. 5 stars
9/05/04 ownerofdajoint basinger and bridges are both very good in this one 4 stars
8/15/04 jack sisson thought provoking and suspenseful 5 stars
8/13/04 tonycovatta Well acted, but a very disjointed script. the final symbol does not carry the burden 3 stars
8/08/04 sonia Loved this movie!!!!! 5 stars
8/02/04 Phil_Mtooth Jeff Bridges gives a wonderful performance 4 stars
7/29/04 fred wall looming cult classic, bridges superb 5 stars
7/26/04 Nuwanda Didn't know it was an adaptation, but could guess by the gaping narrative holes 2 stars
7/24/04 louise an emotional ride well worth taking 5 stars
7/19/04 twilliams606 great movie! 5 stars
7/09/04 Ray Solid drama 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  14-Jul-2004 (R)
  DVD: 14-Dec-2004

UK
  N/A

Australia
  03-Mar-2005


Directed by
  Tod Williams

Written by
  Tod Williams

Cast
  Jeff Bridges
  Kim Basinger
  Mimi Rogers
  Bijou Phillips



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