The Door in the Floor movie poster
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The Door in the Floor movie poster

The Door in the Floor Movie Review

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Easily one of the most overlooked films of 2004, "The Door in the Floor" brings the first third of John Irving's novel "A Widow for One Year" to the big screen with powerful performances by Jeff Bridges and Kim Basinger.

Written and directed by Tod Williams, "The Door in the Floor" takes a look at the life of a struggling family during one summer, as viewed through the eyes of a teenage outsider who has shown up to assist Ted Cole, a famous children's author, with his writing. Ted and his wife Marion, played by Bridges and Basinger respectively, have recently separated. Ted has decided to take out his frustrations by sleeping with other women, while Marion has simply shut down. A love affair soon ensues between Marion and her husband's teenage apprentice, played skillfully by Jon Foster, but the horrible events of the past cannot be escaped.

"The Door in the Floor" impressively blends humor and dark drama together to create a film that feels like true life. I was never seduced by a beautiful Hollywood star when I was a teenager, but the characters are so vivid and real it is easy to become lost in their story. As discussed in one of the bonus features on the DVD where Irving talks about his characters, Ted is really sort of a bastard, but Bridges brings a depth to him that makes him likable nonetheless. Basinger's character also has an inherently awful flaws, but you can see the torment in her eyes and feel for the woman.

Had this movie been released in November or December instead of the very odd month of July, the movie would be garnering more attention, as would be the actors. Bridges is excellent and Basinger is the best she's been in years; Foster is also quite good, though his character isn't as important. It is a real shame Focus Features decided to release the film in summer, a time usually wasted on big blockbusters, because award voters typically forget films half a year old. This one will come and go and be forgotten, unfortunately.

"The Door in the Floor" is not without flaws and never really attains an emotional pivot point until the last ten minutes or so, but it is still moving and shockingly intriguing. The performances only compliment this well-made film.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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