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Sunday, February 11, 2007

Sliding Doors

Sliding Doors is a movie from 1998 starring Gwyneth Paltrow, John Hannah and John Lynch. Just a warning, there very possibly will be spoilers so if you haven't seen the movie yet and think you might want to, don't read any farther.

Helen (Paltrow) leaves her live-in boyfriend (Lynch) in bed and goes to work--late. When she arrives she's fired. She leaves to return home. In one version, the doors to the tube (It's in London) close just before she gets there and she misses her train. In the second version, she just makes the train. From here on out, the movie weaves between these two alternate time lines.

In version one, Helen tries to find an alternate means home. She hails a taxi, gets mugged and has to go to the hospital for stitches. When she arrives home, her boyfriend, Gerry, is in the shower alone, and while he's acting strangely, she accepts his explanations. Helen can't find another PR job and ends up working two jobs while her worthless boyfriend claims to be writing his novel.

In version two, Helen sits on the train next to a charming man, James, (Hannah) and arrives home in time to catch Gerry in bed with his former girlfriend. Helen goes to stay with her friend, starts her own PR business and develops a relationship with James.

I think I will stop the plot summary here. The story, though, spans something like a year and the two scenarios are intertwined, showing the possibilities and how different things can be by such a simple little thing like missing the train.

I totally loved this movie. I loved it so much, I want to buy a copy so I can watch it again whenever the mood strikes. I read some reviews after I was finished that pointed out the flaws, but quite frankly, I didn't care. The story transported me and my author's brain was chugging away, going, wow, what a cool idea. I love the concept of alternate realities and parallel lives.

The critics pointed out that neither story was all that strong, but the truth was, neither story needed to stand alone. The whole concept was to weave them together. The other criticism, that Gerry was a complete louse, etc is better founded. Gerry is a complete jerk, but John Lynch manages to make him come across in such a way that we can see why Helen would be prone to believe him. The woman he's having an affair with also is a bit two-dimensional, the bitchy other woman, but that didn't matter to me either.

I cared about Helen, I adored James and was rooting for them as a couple. There were several points where the juxtaposition of the two realities were so tight to each other, I was like, wow, this is so cool! For example, in one reality, Helen is standing on a boat with James keeping pace with a boat race--sculling, right?--and cheering them on. In the other reality, Helen is walking along the river with the boat race and James is with a buddy on the pace boat. She doesn't notice him, just the racers, but makes a comment about how she knew there'd be a boat race.

That was another aspect I found interesting--the bleed through between the lives. The very end closes with this idea and intrigues me all the more with the story. How connected are we to our alternate realities? Are our deja vu moments something that's come through from one of these realities?

Good romance, a likable heroine, intriguing ideas, and a hopeful ending. (I was worried about that for a moment.) Who could ask for more? I totally, completely loved this movie.

My rating: 5 stars