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2 items from 2004


The Door in the Floor

9 August 2004 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Adapting John Irving novels to the screen is a tricky bit of business.

When the elements come together successfully, the results can take the generally pleasing forms of The World According to Garp and The Cider House Rules (for which Irving himself handled screenplay honors).

When they don't, you're stuck with the lumpy Hotel New Hampshire or the treacly Simon Birch, which was loosely based on Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany.

Breaking the tie, The Door in the Floor -- taking its cue from the first part of Irving's A Widow for One Year -- falls satisfyingly into the plus category.

A tragicomic rumination on life and death and love and sex (but not necessarily in that order), the production is graced by bold performances, lyrical visuals and, most notably, Irving's own words, which have made the transition quite intact thanks to a faithful but still filmic adaptation by writer-director Tod Williams.

With its tragic emotional underpinnings and complex characters, the Focus Features release would have seemed more at home in the fall release schedule rather than taking on potential blockbusters like I, Robot and King Arthur, but the counterprogramming gambit could work in the picture's favor, giving it a neat jump on all those upcoming awards hopefuls.

As with the earlier section of Irving's 576-page novel, Door chronicles a fateful summer in the splintering lives of an East Hampton couple still struggling to cope with the tragic deaths of their two sons.

While free-spirited Ted Cole (a terrific Jeff Bridges), a successful children's author and illustrator, has seemingly moved on from the mourning process by indulging his weakness for infidelity, his wife, Marion (Kim Basinger), remains in a troubling state of withdrawal.

The pallor over their seaside household has forced their 4-year-old daughter, Ruth (Elle Fanning, Dakota's equally capable little sister), to grow up fast.

But a coastal disturbance soon arrives in the form of Eddie O'Hare (Jon Foster), a young man who's ostensibly hired on as Ted's intern but quickly develops a major crush on Marion. Much to his surprise, his feverish sexual yearning is reciprocated, though their steamy affair doesn't exactly lead to a tidy emotional recovery for the damaged family unit.

Williams, who made his feature debut with "The Adventures of Sebastian Cole" and is working on a remake of To Have and Have Not for Benicio Del Toro, does a careful job of extracting and reshaping the Irving material, never shying away from the book's more overtly sexual elements, without detracting from the film's own separate identity.

Key to that success is a strong ensemble playing flawed characters that essentially dare the audience to like them.

The fundamentally likable Bridges gamely pushes all that goodwill to the far edge as the unorthodox Ted, logging one of his best performances in the process.

Basinger, meanwhile, who shared the screen with Bridges in Robert Benton's Nadine, really immerses herself into her character's complex layers with similarly impressive results.

Also doing gutsy work is Mimi Rogers, who has been given very little to hide behind as the needy, hot-blooded object of Bridges' daytime affections.

Behind the camera, cinematographer Terry Stacey (American Splendor) is responsible for some truly lovely compositions, movingly underscored by Marcelo Zarvos' eloquent music.

The Door in the Floor

Focus Features

Focus Features and Revere Pictures present a This Is That production

Credits:

Director-screenwriter: Tod Williams

Based on the novel A Widow for One Year by: John Irving

Producers: Ted Hope, Anne Carey, Michael Corrente

Executive producers: Roger Marino, Amy J. Kaufman

Director of photography: Terry Stacey

Production designer: Therese DePrez

Editor: Affonso Goncalves

Costume designer: Eric Daman

Music: Marcelo Zarvos

Cast:

Ted Cole: Jeff Bridges

Marion Cole: Kim Basinger

Eddie O'Hare: Jon Foster

Eleanor Vaughn: Mimi Rogers

Ruth Cole: Elle Fanning

Alice: Bijou Phillips

Eduardo Gomez: Louis Arcella

MPAA rating R

Running time -- 111 minutes »

Permalink | Report a problem


The Door in the Floor

18 June 2004 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Adapting John Irving novels to the screen is a tricky bit of business.

When the elements come together successfully, the results can take the generally pleasing forms of "The World According to Garp" and "The Cider House Rules" (for which Irving himself handled screenplay honors).

When they don't, you're stuck with the lumpy "Hotel New Hampshire" or the treacly "Simon Birch", which was loosely based on Irving's "A Prayer for Owen Meany".

Breaking the tie, "The Door in the Floor" -- taking its cue from the first part of Irving's "A Widow for One Year" -- falls satisfyingly into the plus category.

A tragicomic rumination on life and death and love and sex (but not necessarily in that order), the production is graced by bold performances, lyrical visuals and, most notably, Irving's own words, which have made the transition quite intact thanks to a faithful but still filmic adaptation by writer-director Tod Williams.

With its tragic emotional underpinnings and complex characters, the Focus Features release would have seemed more at home in the fall release schedule rather than taking on potential blockbusters like "I, Robot" and "King Arthur", but the counterprogramming gambit could work in the picture's favor, giving it a neat jump on all those upcoming awards hopefuls.

As with the earlier section of Irving's 576-page novel, "Door" chronicles a fateful summer in the splintering lives of an East Hampton couple still struggling to cope with the tragic deaths of their two sons.

While free-spirited Ted Cole (a terrific Jeff Bridges), a successful children's author and illustrator, has seemingly moved on from the mourning process by indulging his weakness for infidelity, his wife, Marion (Kim Basinger), remains in a troubling state of withdrawal.

The pallor over their seaside household has forced their 4-year-old daughter, Ruth (Elle Fanning, Dakota's equally capable little sister), to grow up fast.

But a coastal disturbance soon arrives in the form of Eddie O'Hare (Jon Foster), a young man who's ostensibly hired on as Ted's intern but quickly develops a major crush on Marion. Much to his surprise, his feverish sexual yearning is reciprocated, though their steamy affair doesn't exactly lead to a tidy emotional recovery for the damaged family unit.

Williams, who made his feature debut with "The Adventures of Sebastian Cole" and is working on a remake of "To Have and Have Not" for Benicio Del Toro, does a careful job of extracting and reshaping the Irving material, never shying away from the book's more overtly sexual elements, without detracting from the film's own separate identity.

Key to that success is a strong ensemble playing flawed characters that essentially dare the audience to like them.

The fundamentally likable Bridges gamely pushes all that goodwill to the far edge as the unorthodox Ted, logging one of his best performances in the process.

Basinger, meanwhile, who shared the screen with Bridges in Robert Benton's "Nadine", really immerses herself into her character's complex layers with similarly impressive results.

Also doing gutsy work is Mimi Rogers, who has been given very little to hide behind as the needy, hot-blooded object of Bridges' daytime affections.

Behind the camera, cinematographer Terry Stacey ("American Splendor") is responsible for some truly lovely compositions, movingly underscored by Marcelo Zarvos' eloquent music.

The Door in the Floor

Focus Features

Focus Features and Revere Pictures present a This Is That production

Credits:

Director-screenwriter: Tod Williams

Based on the novel "A Widow for One Year" by: John Irving

Producers: Ted Hope, Anne Carey, Michael Corrente

Executive producers: Roger Marino, Amy J. Kaufman

Director of photography: Terry Stacey

Production designer: Therese DePrez

Editor: Affonso Goncalves

Costume designer: Eric Daman

Music: Marcelo Zarvos

Cast:

Ted Cole: Jeff Bridges

Marion Cole: Kim Basinger

Eddie O'Hare: Jon Foster

Eleanor Vaughn: Mimi Rogers

Ruth Cole: Elle Fanning

Alice: Bijou Phillips

Eduardo Gomez: Louis Arcella

MPAA rating R

Running time -- 111 minutes »

Permalink | Report a problem


2 items from 2004


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