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The Door in the Floor (15)



Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: Two

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Feature commentary. Behind the scenes. Novel To Screen: John Irving. Anatomy of a Scene.

JEFF Bridges delivers another masterful performance in this heartfelt tale of love, loss and repressed guilt, based on the classic novel by John Irving.

He stars as children's book author and illustrator, Ted Cole, a man still struggling to deal with the death of his two sons in a car accident, who seeks solace in booze and the rich New York wives who live near his estate in the Hamptons.

Estranged from his wife, Marion (Kim Basinger), Ted resolves to hire Eddie (Jon Foster) as an assistant, believing his presence might ease the burden on his family (including their remaining daughter, Ruth, played by Elle Fanning), but mainly because the 16-year-old resembles his eldest son and might help Marion seek comfort.

But far from easing the strain, Eddie's presence threatens to shatter the Coles' fragile existence, forcing each family member to confront their grief as well as any guilt they may shoulder.

Matters are complicated still further when Marion begins an affair with Eddie, after becoming flattered by the boy's awkward crush on her.

Directed by Tod Williams, The Door In The Floor isn't always easy to watch and revels in its ability to challenge viewers into forming their own opinion of each characters' actions and motives.

But it is driven by some majestic performances as well as some wonderful moments of black humour.

Williams, especially, defines himself as a director to watch, having written to Irving personally to request the rights to the movie, and then taking the bold decision to shed the last two-thirds of the book and concentrate solely on the first 183 pages.

As such, the film isn't hindered by the epic scope of the book and allows itself the time to concentrate on the emotions of all the characters concerned, including those of young Ruth (probably the most innocent of all the characters), who is remarkably played by young Miss Fanning (sister of Dakota).

Williams deserves credit, too, for never allowing proceedings to become too heavy-handed or manipulative, preferring instead to let his actors do the work and his viewers to arrive at their own conclusions.

As a result, The Door In The Floor possesses an almost hypnotic quality, even during its most shocking moments - as in the scene where Ruth walks in on her mother having sex with Eddie, or when Marion catches Eddie masturbating over her lingerie.

None of it feels voyeuristic or exploitative, however, which is crucial in allowing the film to work in its own right, and which serves to keep audiences on their toes.

The result is a poignant, moving and thought-provoking piece of cinema that remains with you long after Williams has closed his own door in the floor.

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