PSIPOOK | reviews | the door in the floor



The Door in the Floor
Drama/US/English (Japanese subtitles)/111mins
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Kim Basinger, Jon Foster
Director: Tod Williams
Focus Features

The Door in the Floor is a film for those of us who like their dramas nasty and psychological.
Jeff Bridges is author Ted Cole. He’s married to Marion who is played with conviction and sympathy by Kim Basinger. Neither is very happy. Well, the story is taken from the first third of John Irving’s novel AWidow for One Year, so happy is disallowed from the outset.

The couple had two sons, both of whom were killed in a car smash. In some vague way, Marion seems to blame Ted. Marion and Ted had another child, a girl, Ruth (Bijou Phillips), but this has not healed or ameliorated the loss.

It is difficult to see how much bereavement has affected her husband. Bridges’s face suggests lots going on inside, but the character is very stingy with what comes out. Ted, aside from his loss, is unhappy because he is a failed serious novelist, who has found a niche as an author of kids’ books, which he illustrates himself. This career has unexpected avenues to adultery as he recruits women from the neighbourhood to be his models then persuades them to pose nude and have sex with him.
Beyond just being unhappy, Ted has for his own inscrutable reasons decided to destroy his marriage and cause his wife maximum mental distress. He is a skilled button pusher and this talent hits its apogee when he hires an assistant — even though he doesn’t need one who looks the spit of one of his dead sons. He knew this would freak Marion and it does. The other thing Ted knows is that Marion once seduced a 16-year old boy and it becomes obvious that Ted is pushing her into an affair with young Eddie. When Marion comes across Eddie pleasing himself with her underwear, the affair becomes inevitable. Not a recommended pick up technique, but it seems to work here.

In the middle of all this is poor little Ruth, who, funnily enough is suffering a certain amount of trauma. In the Irving novel, this whole episode is just setting up Ruth for a really mucked up adulthood.

Review by Chris Page

October, 2005

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