The Door in the Floor DVD Review
1 Disc Widescreen Edition (2004)
This movie is adapted from John Irving’s best-selling novel A Widow for a Year. If you don’t remember this author’s name, you might remember the movie made from another one of his books, The Cider House Rules. This movie stars Jeff Bridges, Kim Basinger, Jon Foster, and Elle Fanning (yes, Dakota’s little sister who often plays the younger version of Dakota in films).
Jeff Bridges plays Ted Cole, a cynical but wise children’s book writer who is married to Kim Basinger’s Marion Cole, but they’ve grown apart and he makes the decision they should have a trial separation to see if they can work things out. Things have been really hard on the family since their sons, Timothy and Thomas were killed in a car accident and Marion is very depressed and often goes into periods of time where she “turns to stone” and just stares off into space at the very thought of what she has lost. This results in a lack of attention towards her young daughter she had after the accident, Ruth (Elle Fanning).
Ted hires on Jon Foster’s Eddie O’Hare, a teen aspiring to be a writer himself just to work for him for the summer doing various odds and ends but mostly as a driver. Eddie is attracted to Marion and unexpectedly, she responds to him for her own reasons. Being through such traumatic ordeals, however, she is not to be judged for her actions. Ted is completely aware of what is going on and just wants her to be happy. The three of them get very tangled up and it gets to a point where you just know you’re watching real people. They have many layers and motives. As a result, you can like all of them and they are spared from judgement.
This won’t be a film for everyone. Not if you don’t like long films or films that are mostly about talking but it has some good comic moments as well as a bit of slapstick in one scene. If you want to be taken in and told a good story, you should see this movie. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The use of muted color with a one or two deviations in each frame really give a feel for the atomsphere and location of the film. I really like it but it didn’t blow me away out of my seat.
The making-of documentary really explores how they case the actors. Jon Foster had to lose weight to appear more of a nerd in the beginning of the movie. Kim Basinger had a lot of doubts about taking on such a deep, emotional role but pulled it off beautifully. Jeff Bridges had a lot of influence in the editing process because he had such a great feel for the story.
For those who don’t know, this movie is only based off the first third of the book, “A Widow For a Year”. The story was told from little Ruthie’s point of view but this movie focused on the beginning so if you want to know the complete story, you can read the whole book. There’s a feature starring John Irving called “From Novel to Screen” where he goes into detail about differences and similarities between the movie and the book and reveals more about the characters.
There is feature commentary with the director Tod Williams and the production team. They talk a lot about the mood of the film, the colors and lighting to get a feel for that beach area and the addition of small things like a $400 block of cheese to throw in the money feel. Also they used a small element of color in each scene in one object to attract attention and kept the rest in muted tones. They explore individual shots and when there’s a real slap and when there isn’t, etc. It’s very interesting for the person who is already a fan of the material.