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Sliding Doors (DVD)
Member Name: wampyrii
Sliding Doors (DVD)
Date: 20/01/03, updated on 21/01/03 (87 review reads)
Advantages: Well acted by a likeable cast, intelligent scripting, thought provoking
Disadvantages: Tripplehorn over-eggs her role, some complained it was hard to follow, maybe more of a chick flick...
This is how romantic comedies should be. If all romcoms were like this then it wouldn't be such an arduous ordeal to accompany your significant other to the cinema on those all too frequent occasions when the next supposedly super romcom chick flick hits town. I'm lucky in that my lady hates romcoms as much as I do, but I've been there before and pity those of you who still end up suffering the usual romcom dross regurgitated onto the screen all too frequently. If more were like Sliding Doors however it would be a pleasure.
Sliding Doors explores that old chestnut of "what if?". However, in this instance it's not just a ten second plot device used to advance the story into cliché hell, but rather Sliding Doors bases its entire story on an instance of lost time and the exploration of a different fork in the path of life of one woman and how differently things would develop as a result. The movie starts off with Helen(Gwyneth Paltrow) losing her job at an advertising company in the city and deciding to return home early as a result. The story splits in two at the tube station on the way home. In the first scenario she boards the train and meets chatty passenger James(John Hannah) who loves Monty Python and The Beatles and tries to cheer her up, whilst obviously captivated by her beauty. Returning home she finds her boyfriend Gerry(John Lynch) in bed with another woman(Jeanne Tripplehorn) and a chain of events is set in motion which takes her life in an entirely new direction. In the second scenario she is obstructed on the stairs by a small child and misses the train, ends up getting mugged and taken to hospital, returning home late and never finding out about her boyfriend's continuing infidelity and continues living her life in ignorance...
Both stories are juxtaposed to one another and continue in parallel from the point where they split as we see how Hannah's life would pan out in both scenarios, both versions of
Hannah going on to lead very different lives and becoming very different people in the company of the same group of friends and enemies. Often the paths of these two different lives converge and diverge but the resultant situations pan out differently each time. It makes for fascinating viewing for anyone who has ever wondered what would have happened if they'd made one decision instead of another...which surely must account for 100% of the human population of this World.
Gwyneth Paltrow is easily up to the task of portraying both very different characters putting in an excellent performance on both counts. The first, somewhat mousy brunette we are initially introduced to who stays with her boyfriend Gerry is a very different woman to the liberated blonde who ends up being courted by John Hannah's character in a different life fork. Watching the slow transformation of one, initially somewhat unsympathetic, version of Hannah into the other is an equally interested part of the movie and Paltrow has the skill to portray this with ease. John Hannah as James is upbeat and sunny throughout, coming across as an instantly likeable nice guy who we'd all rather see Hannah with rather than her lily livered philandering boyfriend played ably by John Lynch who I can't remember having seen before but who plays the part well.
The only poor performance, or perhaps miscast one, comes from the obligatory American presence of Jeanne Tripplehorn who comes across as somewhat forced and over-the-top as Gerry's bit on the side, femme fatale. It's probably fair to say her performance isn't *that* bad but suffers from what I tend to call 'Four Weddings Syndrome'...stick a seemingly token American female actress amongst an all Brit cast to cynically give an American audience something to identify with at the cinema and she is bound to seem out of place and almost alien in a Brit world, there's little anyone can do to make it seem a
ny other way. Umm, as was pointed out elsewhere Paltrow isn't a Brit either but as that's a fact which seems to confuse even her own countrymen, the fact remains Tripplehorn seems out of place, a little OTT and because little time is actually afforded to her, she comes across as a token yank to get high spending American audience bums on theatre seats and as a plot device rather than a real character. Fortunately the other three characters are afforded the vast majority of the screen time available so it doesn't spoil the movie.
There are really two levels of movie viewing pleasure which can be enjoyed here. On the one hand there is the simple romantic tale which is above average in virtually every respect with its talented cast, intelligent and often genuinely funny script whilst on the other there are plenty of opportunities to ponder on the great question of 'what if?' and to take a wander down both forks in the road and observe its intriguing results. Writer and director Peter Howitt has really comes up trumps with this movie and has certainly made a somewhat enormous leap from playing Joey Boswell in Carla Lane's 80's sitcom 'Bread' if nothing else! His later movie Antitrust wasn't anywhere near so well received(I'm yet to see it but 'pants' seems to be the general conclusion from those whose opinion I trust lol) but if this is the kind of movie he is capable of creating then his is a career which certainly deserves following in the future. Sliding Doors is great, more intelligent than your average romantic comedy and by virtue of that alone perhaps, both enormously watchable and highly enjoyable to boot.
Recommended for a rental.