Reviewed by GREG KING
Director: Tod Williams
Cast: Jeff Bridges, Kim Basinger, Jon Foster, Mimi Rogers, Elle Fanning.
Faithfully adapted from the first third of John Irving’s sprawling novel A Widow For One Year, The Door In The Floor is a dark, contemplative, and emotionally charged film dealing with grief, guilt and loss. This literate and moving film explores how tragedy can either destroy a family or bring them together during the painful healing process.
Since the death of their teenage sons years earlier, Ted Cole (Jeff Bridges) and his wife Marion (Kim Basinger) have become estranged and there is a cool distance between them. Their marriage has been torn apart by regret and recriminations, and the couple psychologically tear strips off each other. The empty spaces on the wall where photographs used to hang hint at the painful past that now separates them.
Ted is an author and illustrator of children&rsquo;s books, but he is now suffering from an inertia that sees him spend most of his time drawing, debasing and humiliating his trusting nude model/mistress (Mimi Rogers). During one summer he hires Eddie (Jon Foster), a young writing student from a nearby college, to be his intern for the summer. While Eddie finds his time with the Coles a pleasant diversion, he soon finds himself trapped by the ghosts and memories that continue to haunt the family. Eddie unwittingly becomes the catalyst for the final disintegration of the Coles&rsquo; marriage when the fragile and unstable Marion, who is desperately looking for the physical comfort and solace she can no longer get from the distracted Ted, seduces him. That Eddie also resembles her oldest dead son brings a creepy element to her actions.
Under the sympathetic and restrained direction of Tod Williams (the little seen independent cult favourite The Adventures Of Sebastan Cole), the ensemble cast deliver impeccable performances. Basinger, who really hasn’t done much since her Oscar winning turn in LA Confidential, is superb here, delivering a rich and complex performance that captures Marion’s grief and vulnerability, yet hints at her sexy image from the past. Bridges is also superb, and delivers a knockabout performance as the tortured but roguish Ted. And relative newcomer Foster, who has appeared in small roles in films like My Life As A House and Thirteen Days, etc, makes the most of his first major role. He delivers a fine performance as the naive, hormonally driven Eddie.
The Door In The Floor subtly explores themes familiar to films like In The Bedroom, The Ice Storm, etc, with a ribald touch of the coming of age tale a la The Graduate or Summer Of 42 thrown in for good measure. Beautifully photographed, hauntingly scored by Marcelo Zarvos, The Door In The Floor is an intelligent and moving film that packs an emotional wallop that resonates with audiences long after the final credits roll.