The Door In The Floor Movie Review

Jeff Bridges and Kim Basinger give a pair of extraordinary performances in "The Door in the Floor" as a couple whose souls and whose marriage have never recovered from the deaths of their teenage sons six years before.

Their lives are like broken teacups glued back together -- they may look undamaged from a distance, but up close it's clear they're now made up of psychological shatters and shards that can never be the same again.

Not that they haven't tried to move forward. Hoping to retard their overwhelming sense of loss, they even had a daughter -- played by 6-year-old Elle Fanning, the not-quite-as-natural little sister of uber-talented 8-year-old Dakota ("Man On Fire") -- who seems to subconsciously understand her function in the family.

The film opens with the kind of subtly captivating, fact-of-life moment that defines its emotional timbre: The curious, melancholy little girl sneaks out of bed in what seems to be a midnight ritual, quietly drags a chair across a wooden floor and climbs up to study one of several dozen artful black-and-white photos hung in a hallway shrine to the dead brothers she never knew -- this one a sanguine shot of the boys at just about her own age.

But as writer-director Tod Williams ("The Adventures of Sebastian Cole") soon reveals in this adaptation from part of John Irving's "Widow for One Year," this family of broken china is starting to come unglued.

Bridges plays Ted Cole, a Hampton-bohemian best-selling author and illustrator of dark, esoteric, metaphorical children's books. He's a dog-eared man whose untreated, unfocused antipathy has begun to emerge in his increasingly vitriolic nude paintings of local married women, with whom he has quiet affairs and then discards unceremoniously.

Basinger is his wife Marion, who is disappearing into a fog of lingering sorrow and instability until Ted hires an assistant he doesn't really need -- a admiring and nervously polite, 18-year-old aspiring author named Eddie (Jon Foster, younger brother of "Liberty Height's" Ben Foster), whose transparent sexual obsession with Marion rekindles something in her shifting psyche.

Jealousy and bitterness, forgotten tenderness and echoing heartbreak percolate under the couple's level-headed surface in ways that may lead to healing -- or may be disastrous -- as Eddie becomes a pawn in their trial separation. But he's also coming into his own as a person to be reckoned with, more aware of the costs of this rift than either Ted or Marion.

The many rich facets of the characters are what fuel the film's absorbing intelligence and depth -- especially the evolving dynamic between Ivy-League-bound Eddie and functionally off-kilter, caftan-disheveled Ted as they move from mentor and admirer to testing each other's mettle. In one scene Ted explains that he's throwing Eddie out of the house, then offers him a friendly beer while further stating that he won't be giving the kid a lift to the ferry. This dichotomy of affection is part of how their relationship functions, and each of the film's characters has vulnerabilities that are in constant flux.

"The Door in the Floor" hits a couple narrative bumps that break its stride a little -- especially in the progression of Marion's uncomfortable affair with young Eddie, whom she uses as a lover and a surrogate son. The liaison begins so awkwardly it's borderline absurd and progresses through some bad choices that are irresponsible at best, unbelievable at worst. But even this is based in character: Marion is in such a peculiar, fragile place emotionally that her indulgence of Eddie is in many ways both therapeutic and self-destructive.

Most satisfying (although that may be a bad choice of words) is that the story does not come to a tidy resolution, but rather, like both real life and Ted Cole's odd kids' books, leaves one wondering, for better or worse, what lies in its characters' futures.

Comments

The Door In The Floor Rating

" OK "

Rating: R, LIMITED: Wednesday, July 14, 2004<br> EXPANDS: Friday, July 23, 2004

Advertisement

More Jeff Bridges

Jeff Bridges Brings His Wife Along To 'The Giver' NY Premiere - Part 5

Jeff Bridges and his wife of 37 years Susan Geston made their way to the New York premiere of 'The Giver' held at the Ziegfeld...

Who Is The Young Actor Brenton Thwaites?

An impressive cast of screen veterans, promising young newcomers, a multi-millions selling pop star and Katie Holmes have assembled for the dystopian sci-fi pic The...

The Giver: What Do We Need To Know?

American social science film, The Giver, was recently released on 15 August in the USA and is due to hit UK cinemas in the next...

Uneventful Box Office Maintains Summer Momentum

Not much to report from the box office after this week – despite all its manpower, Expendables 3 just couldn’t outgun previous chart toppers Teenage...

Advertisement

Jeff Bridges Wanted To Direct Father Lloyd in 'The Giver'

Jeff Bridgeshas revealed that he stumbled across his latest projectThe Giverby looking through children's books in search for a project for his father, Lloyd. Bridges...

The Lesser Known Films Of Robin Williams

The late Robin Williams was well-known for a number of iconic roles and had spread his talent liberally across comedy, thriller, drama and animation. From...

Weinstein's 'The Giver' Relies on Experience of Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep

There were nervous, twitchy looks around the various Hollywood studios when Harvey Weinstein announced he was dipping his toe into the young-adult genre. That said,...

A Week In Movies: On Set With The Hunger Games, Howard Hughes And The Lobster; New Trailers For Expendables 3 And Ninja Turtles

In Paris, Jennifer Lawrence was caught on camera as she shot scenes for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 involving a huge crowd of elaborately...

Advertisement