A few days after watching the movie and reading an assortment of reviews from IMDb, local magazines, New York Times to Ebert, I still have not made up my mind how seriously I should take this one.
The two names alone, Jeff Bridges and Kim Basinger, should make any serious moviegoers sit up and take note. As well, the subject matter itself is not something to be taken lightly, the tragic loss of children and the devastating aftermath to the parents. (Two films dealing with this subject matter immediately come to mind, Moonlight Mile and In the Bedroom, both quite 'serious' in a sense, particularly the latter). The movie losses no time in coming directly to the point, in a scene where the silent gloom freezes the air, with children books author Ted (Bridges) suggesting to Marion (Basinger) that they should have a trial separation. However, as the events unfold, it seems as if the moviemakers are worried that the audience wouldn't be able to take this heavy stuff, and start to lead us through a maze of eccentricities that almost become noire.
The catalyst is 16-year-old writing student Eddie (Jon Foster) hired by Ted as a summer apprentice. It soon becomes quite evident that Ted has little intention to get Eddie involved in literary pursuits, but wants him rather as a chauffeur (Ted has lost his own license through drunk driving charges) and maybe also as a backup baby sitter for little Ruth (Elle Fanning). (A deeper reason for choosing Eddie was revealed much later). A little reminiscent of The Graduate, Marion's seduction of Eddie is however handled with much more gentleness and even some comic relief. Meanwhile, Ted's licentious relationship with a neighbour becomes noir-ish as we see him chased around the swimming pool by her with a butcher knife.
The 'hook' in the movie is the delay in revealing to the audience the details of the tragic events that led to the death of the couple's two sons (one of whom looked remarkably like Eddie). The revelation, when it comes, isn't exactly earth shattering, but does serve to give the strained relationship between Ted and Marion another dimension. And we will recall that throughout the movie, we see very little of direct interaction between them. After Eddie's arrival they seem to be communicating through him.
Bridges and Basinger are definitely the reasons for watching this movie. From underneath the eccentricity of Ted and the sensuality of Marion, Bridges and Basinger portray beautifully the depth of helplessness of these two characters. Little known Jon Foster is perfectly cast to bring out convincingly the innocence of Eddie. Little Elle Fanning ably demonstrates the family acting tradition. I noticed from her filmography that she played the 2-year-old stage of the character her sister Dakota played in I Am Sam.
My wife and I just got back from "The Door in the Floor", and I have to say that I found the film to be complex, deep, and intense. We will be hearing about nominations at Oscar time. There are many, many ways that people react to tragedy, and withdrawing the way that Marion Cole did is certainly common. We have friends that lost their eldest daughter to a congenital heart problem a year and a half ago, and I can tell you that he (the dad) reacted just that way, although he went down the alcoholic route, along with distancing himself from his other two children, because he couldn't face his daughter's death. He finally walked out on the entire family much like Marion did. If you think that it can't happen the way that it did in the film, think again.
The performances by Jeff Bridges and Kim Basinger were spot-on perfect. Henry Fonda once said the secret of great actors was that they never let the audience see the wheels turning. I thought that Jeff's performance was one of his best, maybe even better than he was in "Fearless", although that is certainly arguable. I still liked Kim Basinger better in "L.A. Confidential", but this performance is certainly up there at the top.
I certainly intend to see this again, and will end up buying the DVD for my video library. I just love well-written character-driven dramas, and this is certainly one of the better ones.
Having just seen this movie I cannot believe Jeff Bridges was not nominated for this performance (but after Paul Giametti getting overlooked this year, what do you expect) Perhaps people don't know what good acting is: not 'ACTING' but truth, naturalness, and a revelation of how people really behave--but Jeff is so subtle and unshowy that he just becomes the part (Kim Basinger was first rate too)Put this film up against the pretentious and showy twaddle that was American Beauty, and we see what a farce the Oscars really are. The monologue towards the end of this film where Jeff talks about the accident and the death of their two sons was heartbreaking--because it did not go for drama or histrionics, just pure, emotional truth. I urge people who have not seen this movie to please check it out--I don't think you will be sorry--if you are open to the possibility of films that treat you and respect you as an adult, and shows human beings in all their frailties in the most heartbreaking of experiences.
"The Door in the Floor" may be one of the best movies so far this year. It offers a moving experience and memorable characters that you will not soon forget.
The story is an adaptation of the best-selling novel, "A Widow for One Year" by John Irving (who also wrote "The World According to Garp" and "The Cider House Rules"). I haven't read the book, but the screenplay by writer/director Tod Williams is so good that it's hard to imagine that it doesn't do justice to its source. (Apparently, the book spans many decades in the life of this family; that's certainly a different approach than what is presented in the film.) Applause to Tod again for his brilliant direction in which he obtains sensitive, extraordinary performances from the sterling cast.
Jeff Bridges is sublime as Ted Cole, a children's book author. His character dominates the plot and it's an Academy Award level portrayal. Bridges only gets better with time, and he is at the top of his form here. In a more understated, introspective role, Kim Basinger plays Ted's wife, Marion Cole. It's another performance deserving of Academy Award notice. Basinger's beauty is only exceeded by the depth of her acting ability. Elle Fanning, younger sister of the talented ten-year-old Dakota Fanning ("I Am Sam", "The Cat in the Hat", "Man on Fire") is an amazing, natural talent as young Ruth, daughter of Ted and Marion.
Jon Foster plays teenaged Eddie O'Hare in yet another superlative job of acting in this movie. Mimi Rogers supports well as Mrs. Vaughn. Her filmography notes she was born in January 1956, which makes her 48 years old. Few actresses would have the ability to play this movie role. She appears in a tense scene, fully nude, and filmed from every angle while she is revolved on a life model's turntable. Wow! More power to her!
"The Door in the Floor" title comes from one of Ted's children's books. We hear the story as Ted does a reading before a local audience. It is clear from the outset that the Cole family is in a state of severe distress, which relates to earlier losses of two sons. Writer/director Tod Williams is masterful in carrying the audience through the gradual and painful exposition of what happened to the couple's children, Tommy and Timothy.
Pleased be aware that all of the principals (except Ruthie) are seen in various stages of nudity in this film -- front, side, back and on top of one another. Everything is shown with great subtlety and sensitivity within the delicate context of the film. There was certainly no prurient interest in any of it. All of the nude scenes are handled in a realistic and matter-of-fact way. For example, little Ruthie sees her father naked, which some viewers may find objectionable, but which certainly works within the context of this film.
This is a movie for all seasons. It's still early in the year and we can only hope that "The Door in the Floor," with its wonderful script, direction, editing, and acting, will still be remembered as we approach nominations for the best films at the end of the year. Go out of your way to see this A++ accomplishment.
This well-acted tragedy pulls us through an exploration of the complexities of love in both the darkest and brightest corridors. Adapted from John Irving's best-selling novel, `A Widow For One Year', the film carefully weaves its way through the painful and tragic aftermath of a deadly accident, alternating between comedy and disaster.
The setting is in the privileged beach community of East Hampton on Long Island, New York where our hero, a children's book author, Ted Cole (Jeff Bridges) resides with his beautiful wife Marion (Kim Bassinger). Once upon a time, they had a happy marriage until the bliss was shattered by the accidental death of their two sons. The aftermath resulted in a general despondency and bizarre infidelities that did little to assuage the pain and dysfunction of their deteriorating relationship. The remnants of a once great love are hinted at in almost every scene, although alas are clouded over by their inability to regroup to face the future and put away the past.
Eddie O'Hare, (Jon Foster) the college junior Ted hired to work as his summer assistant and protégé, becomes the couple's unwitting, yet willing pawn, who ultimately evolves into the catalyst in the transformation of their bitter lives. Ted's recent children's book, `The Door In The Floor' in due course becomes the surviving metaphor for transforming their lives.
The evolving story seems to beg for something really horrific to happen, yet offers a kind of relief when this fear is unrealized. One senses that if this couple had only handled their loss differently, a far better result would have followed. It is also a poignant tale of a young boy's rite of passage becoming a man and another man sinking into an emotional immaturity and then hopefully climbing back out.
Directed and written by Tod Williams, this tale is quite apart from the usual Hollywood drivel that may leave you mired in an introspective quandary for quite some time.
As a huge follower of Jeff Bridges' work, I am here to tell you that if you're a fan too, you must jettison yourself out of your chair forthwith and propel yourself immediately to a theatre where this magnificent film is showing.
The Door In The Floor gives Bridges a chance to create a character truly worthy of his subtle (and generally overlooked) brilliance; his organic, from-the-inside-out approach makes what he does seem so effortless, so thoroughly not-like-acting that he's generally hardly given his due, and if he doesn't garner some serious recognition for what he brings to the table here, there's quite simply no hope for the world.
This is a film of deep, devastating power - a film where you, as an audience member, actually share space with the two main characters, Ted and Marion Cole (Bridges, of course, and an equally-brilliant Kim Bassinger, who once again reminds us why she won an Oscar a few years back). We inhabit their crumbled world, from the inside, not just as observers. By the end, we feel as if we have gone through their tragedy with them, and when I left the theatre, I felt as if my life had been changed by sharing with them what I just shared - as if time itself had stopped and left me suspended in there, with them.
This is a must see. As a jaded New Yorker, I sit through every film, minute by minute, saying to myself, can I believe this moment. In this film, 99.9% of the moments of this film are rich in reality, all the way down to the subtle nuances of a child's syntax. You leave the theatre not questioning the motives or intentions of the characters, but loving them and respecting their choices. Irving captures life as it is, and the actors never go to extremes to manipulate you. The story, is well crafted enough to move you. Jeff Bridges has always been a talented actor and demonstrates incredible poise and intention.
I loved "Widow For One Year" and was a bit skeptical about "A Door In The Floor". I just didn't see it translating well on screen and I have to admit I'm not a Kim Basinger fan either. Well I have to say I was pleasantly surprised with the screenplay and the acting. Yes I felt sad that the other complex part of the story was omitted but after hearing John Irvings comments in the bonus features he put my sadness to rest. I completely see where he was coming from on the difficulties of portraying the other events to be true to the intended meaning. Jeff Bridges and Kim Basinger were very compelling. Kim Basinger did a brilliant job at coming across as a sympathetic character while remaining emotional hardened in a state that allowed her to leave her daughter and sleep with a young teenage boy. One of the things I love best about John Irving is that he creates characters so flawed yet so redeemable and complex. He show the other side of the coin to making bad choices vs. good. He shows that to each screwed up life there are stories of how people get there and how everything around them contributes to who they become. Because of pain some submit to fears, some submit to pleasures, some submit to sorrow. And although some learn to conquer the emotions and pains of life, some don't, and for them it seems Irving wants us to see that they do the best they can to survive it and protect those they love in their own messed up ways. Underneath these characters that seem morally challenged is pain and the desire to survive it. I guess having said that it is sad that Ruth's story was never told. All things considered this was a very good movie based on a brilliant book.
Based on the title, I really didn't know what to expect and enjoyed discovering the story as the focus shifted from picture to picture - is it about the writer, his wife or the young boy who arrives as an assistant... The narrative develops slowly, giving you many possibilities to get into the atmosphere of the Cole family, with feelings, images, impressions, a time to absorb.
The other thing I liked about this movie is Kim Basinger; still looks stunning and even better as time goes by and it's refreshing to see her in a serious role, in something different from the 9 1/2 weeks and Batman style.
I really loved the ending. As simple, so deep it was. I liked the silence before the cast started to roll and the music to play, I needed that. It's refreshing that a director finally can give us this luxury, just to let us sit still for a little while to digest what was happening on the big screen. Don't miss it - 10/10
'The Door in the Floor' happens to be based on John Irving's 'Widow For A Year'. I like most of his work and they are sort of set in a strange world where the main characters are in search for something. 'The Door In The Floor' falls on the same line. It essentially shows two characters, Ted and Marion, going through a chronic grieving process which they both experience differently. While Ted is still somewhat in touch with the world (finding things (e.g. affair with models, building a pool) to keep himself distracted) albeit very loosely as is evident in his disheveled and neglected lifestyle, Marion has lost all her feelings except that of grief. Then there are two other characters who are in search of something. Their daughter Ruth is trying to find her way in her mother's lost world and her way around the house coming to terms with her family loss in her own childly way. There's Eddie who's a fan of Ted and himself aspires to be a writer but he too is looking for something.
Tod Williams presents some wonderful visuals. The feeling of loss and loneliness is well created. For example, with the use of weather where the overcast sky adds to the silent cry of the characters. Yet, there's a sense of humour (typical Irving style humour) that appears at the right moment. The cinematography, especially the close-ups and zooming are well done. The score is whimsical but rightfully gentle.
Both Jeff Bridges and Kim Basinger give beautifully skilled subtle performances. Bridges portrays Ted's loss of focus brilliantly yet he also effectively manages to portray him as a loving father. Basinger steals the show. I remember one particular scene that is among the finest examples of understated acting. It's the scene where Eddie confronts her about her sons' death and then we witness her expression change very slowly while remaining silent. Jon Foster is confident in his role and holds his own with the veteran co-stars. Elle Fanning is okay even though at times appears to be too much of a chatterbox. Mimi Rogers does a fine job of playing the neurotic model.
'The Door In The Floor' is not one that would appeal to everyone because the 'point' isn't directly obvious but it's a story well told and a film well made and at the end one does feel a sense of satisfaction as the characters finally take a step forward.
Jeff Bridges has always seemed to me to be on the edge of doing some really good things and not quite getting there. He was pretty good in Seabiscuit and back a ways he was good as "Dude" in The Big Lebowski, but in The Door in the Floor he is stretched and put to the test in a complicated role and he is WONDERFUL in it!
The story is at times intricate and somewhat tedious, but it holds and makes its case because of Bridges. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences feels obliged each year to give out a best actor award. Many years I think they should just say...."none of the works meet minimum standard"...but this year we won't have to worry about that, at least one role so far is head and shoulders above the rest and that is Jeff Bridges as Ted Cole in The Door in the Floor.
Kim Basinger, still a beauty at "50 something", plays his troubled wife Marion with great style and feeling.
The story is not all that original. Tragedy and dealing with it are Hollywood fare of many decades. However, this one is a bit different and entwines a boy becomes a man twist and a whole lot more. Just go see it! It is not a typical summer movie...I wonder why it came out so early ????...but it is great.
John Irving's novels have never translated easily to film due to their breadth and length (the Academy Award-winning script for 'The Cider House Rules' took over ten years of tinkering). But the structure of events unfolds in 'A Widow for One Year,' the source novel for 'The Door in the Floor,' in such a way that carving out a section for a screenplay is possible. Unfortunately, writer/director Tod Williams seems to have forgotten that when you leave out the last 320 pages of the story, a new resolution of some satisfaction is required.
Ruth Cole, the 'Widow' of the novel's title, is reduced to a secondary character, as the entire film takes place during the summer of her fourth year. Ruth (Elle Fanning) is the child of Ted and Marion (Jeff Bridges and Kim Basinger), who, in a misguided effort to stem their grief over the loss of their teen-aged sons in a car accident (as well as to save their marriage), conceived Ruth.
Sadly, things have only worsened between the Coles, and the story finds them at the nadir of their woe, as Eddie O'Hare (Ben Foster), a young high school student and aspiring writer, gets thrown into the storm of their self-destruction, having signed on for an 'internship' with Ted, a successful author and illustrator of children's books.
Eddie is a wide-eyed innocent, hoping to absorb some sort of insight into what it takes to be a writer from Ted. He shortly discovers that his responsibilities have less to do with literary concerns than with chauffeuring the perpetually drunk Mr. Cole to various homes around the Hamptons for rendezvous with divorcées, babysitting Ruth, and providing companionship for Marion, who is locked in a perpetual stupor of grief. Eddie falls in love and ultimately into bed with the grieving Marion, who finds in him a surrogate for her sons (in a haunting if perverse image, we see Marion mounted atop the arduous Eddie, gazing with longing at a photograph of her sons on the wall above him). As Ted continues to alienate himself, Marion decides to make a break for it, leaving behind her daughter but taking with her all but one of the photographs of her boys that line the hallways. This act of abandonment forms one of the framing questions that drives the novel's narration, but it is the film's final act, and we are left with nothing much more than a shoddily written paean by young Eddie for a resolution (Eddie, interestingly, grows up in the novel to be a bit of a loser, a failed writer whose only connection to the world of literary respectability is Ruth Cole, a successful, award-winning novelist by the time the story resumes after Marion's exit). Marion's escape seems to be meant as a grasp for freedom, but it's hard to admire her for it when you know she's leaving her child behind to be raised by the almost maliciously myopic Ted.
The conclusion seems to mean for the film to be seen as a coming of age drama, but it's hard to imagine what we're supposed to think Eddie has learned (outside of the bedroom, anyway). In the end, the film suffers from an over-seriousness bordering on tedium, and the dialog is painfully artless for a literary adaptation. The big trouble is that, rather than inventing a more thoughtful, logical conclusion, Williams remains faithful to Irving's story, which ends (in this segment, anyway) as a window into a distant future unrecalled or reported in the context of the film. Generally, fidelity to the source novel is a virtue, but here it leaves the story feeling incomplete and void of larger significance outside of the context of spoiled, wealthy New Yorkers pacing stoically through their manse like models posing for a layout in Architectural Digest.
It's hard to fault Tod Williams for his use of setting, however. He sets the film at the Coles' home in the Hamptons, a picturesque den of elegant, WASPy aesthetic sensibility. Indeed, one of the more admirable aspects of the film is its exploitation of the house and the landscape that surrounds it. Williams studied painting in college, and the visual artists' sensibility is on full display here in the landscapes and interior shots he employs almost like still lifes to pace the film and stretch its somber mood between scenes of action and dialog.
Williams films the house beautifully, but fails to bring the same skill to his staging of the scenes or direction of the actors. Jeff Bridges acquaints himself well as Ted Cole, fashioning a boozy, eccentric, larger-than-life figure who is simultaneously repulsive and charismatic. Bridges, however, is arguably the most underrated screen actor of his generation, and brings gifts to the table absent in the rest of the cast. Elle Fanning as Ruth is reduced to nearly nothing. Ben Foster starts out well as the innocent, somewhat pathetic Eddie, but ultimately he is unable to overcome the thin dialog, remaining a bit of a slack-jawed teenager, failing to persuade the audience that he has changed or gained any particular insight. Kim Basinger can be forgiven for her rather stale and tone-deaf performance, since she's given the most difficult job in trying to create sympathy for a woman who seduces her child's teen-aged babysitter and then ultimately abandons her child (she can be forgiven for abandoning her husband).
The film carries an air of artful seriousness, and the circumstances faced by the Cole family are indeed tragic, so some pathos is appropriate, and it's always a pleasure to watch Jeff Bridges at work, even in mediocre fare. But this film is all style and no substance. Williams probably has better work ahead of him; I certainly hope so, anyway.
No it's worse than three day old tripe. It's flotsam. Mean-spirited and drawn out. The only likable character is the poor neglected 4 year old.
Basinger is well suited to the role because it just requires her to look blankly out at the sea. The characters are so stilted and constipated in their emotions.
Very fake and contrived feeling to this movie.
"Bridges, who carries the film for its entirety, gets absolutely no help from the Academy Award winning Basinger whose hollow character seems more lazily portrayed than it should especially when sharing screen time with novice actor Foster. Their relationship makes about as much sense as a blind man wearing glasses.
With tiresome character development and a strenuous screenplay to get involved in, "The Door in the Floor" quickly becomes a pit of despair."
A movie about something that might really happen. There are great performances and the direction in this film. Truly it's some of Bassinger's best work and Bridges is working his usual brilliance that must have once again gone under the Academy's radar. He is one of the most under used actors in cinema. I guess it just makes me more grateful when I do get to see him work.
A good film without gunfights or chase scenes where death takes a toll on people. Jon foster plays his role like a veteran as well, even though he looks to be 17. What else can I say to pad this out to 10 lines of text? I sure want to read the book. It was beautifully photographed.
Jeff Bridges, whom I adore as an actor, is forced to play some awful unbelievable author who apparently is famous for writing the most horrendous story for a child I have ever seen...who varies daily between ignoring or brain washing his own little girl because he is some manipulative psycho...he, who has a wife (KIM Bassinger)that obviously has had a complete breakdown and is in serious need of medical attention, but is ignored and enabled and manipulated into slowly drifting into horrible neglect of her daughter, an inappropriate son like sexual affair with a strange boy who she likens to one of her favourite dead sons, and virtual insanity and eventual abandonment of her child...Kim Bassinger is a hapless helpless victim of this maniacal man...a man I might continue...who "lures" some eager student,with the promise of making him a great writer into his horrid life but really only wants him to be his driver and his wife's sex therapist? Can this get more unreal...but no add on a man an author who is also a painter...who takes women and pretends to paint them as models while actually manipulating them into sexual relationships only to end up slowly humiliating them, destroying their confidence, betraying their trust, violating them, truth be told...
This brief rant of mine doesn't even touch on the completely unreal characters of the boy the wife the daughter the baby sitter...all who apparently just stand by and watch him do all these horrible things to each of them and do nothing but one sorry act of keeping one silly picture for a tormented child in the end?? Good grief......This film was an absolute mess of totally self absorbed people who were completely manipulated and completely self centered and completely unrealistic!! Thankfully unreal; because if you knew anyone like any of them ...for god sakes run and please, please, take that poor child with you don't just give her some picture and leave her with him...... arghhhhhhhhhh hated this film....in so many ways...
Pornography posing as art... fodder for the pretentious...
I wonder what the critics would say if you had a sexual role reversal in this movie, meaning a man in his 40s seducing a young girl of 16 or 17? Just because it's a woman seducing a child doesn't make it right. To make matters even worse, the seduction is of an incestuous nature, as the young boy clearly reminds Marion of her deceased child Tim.
It is rather tiresome to see strange and bizarre patterns of behavior depicted as being artistic and profound. I am not a prude but I found this movie offensive. If your next-door neighbor acted this way, you would be outraged. So why is it OK in a movie?
This film is being completely underrated by the score it was given, in my opinion. The film, The Door In The Floor, is so simple, effective, natural, and deep, that many may misunderstand it, because it just doesn't meet up to the sort of ambiance of a mainstream Hollywood film.
From it's score, to its characters, the film is quiet. It lets the story and characters speak for themselves, as it should. Even during the most dire moments in the film, like when Jeff Bridges is being chased (you have to see it to understand it), the score doesn't turn into a swinging beat, or anything too loud, or obnoxious. It stays quiet, but only to let the acting, pictures, and the developed story, guide it to such a beautiful point.
The writing in the film is probably the most brilliantly executed thing in the film, besides the acting, which will be discussed later. The structure is linear, real, and also theatrical, in that it successfully follows the Aristotlean method (exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and denouement), as does one of my personal favorite playwright's, Martin McDonagh, though he follows a much darker, and ironic template. One of the great things that the script allows the watcher to do is ask questions, and think for themselves. This isn't necessarily quite the film to relax during, and yet you can, but only if you're watching intently. There's a lot of symbolism described in the stories told by Jeff Bridges, and the dialogs between Jon Foster and Kim Basinger. But the symbolism doesn't hold the story down. The plot is fluently executed, but still with substance, and entertainment. The comedy is also something that I was quite fond of in the film, because it was realistic, and yet ridiculous all the same. Most of this is driven by the modesty of Jon Foster's character, and Jeff Bridges' arrogance.
This brings me to the acting. There are only so many films where it is clear that the director let the actors act naturally, and did what they felt was best for themselves, as characters. They seemed vulnerable, uncontrived, and still natural. There's no Hollywood acting in this film, not even Kim Basinger, which I was quite surprising. Kim's work normally falls along those lines in such films as Batman and LA Confidential. But she doesn't use her old techniques clearly here. She really is somebody else, and with no stupid yelps or screams (they seem so random and contrived I wanna puke sometimes). Jon Foster is especially impressive in his role. His vulnerability, and ease on the eyes make a great combination for him, and is something that I hope he holds on to for the extension of his career, no matter how long or short (hopefully it's long).
The photography, for some reason reminds me of Conrad Hall's work in American Beauty. It's so simple, and yet so effective, and gorgeous by the way. Every frame is essential to the essence of the film (pardon the redundancy, just seems right to say).
To sum everything up, this is a superb film, and I hope will bring Tod Williams more jobs as a director, so he can show the world what telling a story is really all about. And I hope to God that his screenplays are as good as this one was. And also, I hope that he works with Jeff Bridges more in his future films.
"The Door in the Floor" is really bad. Really, really bad. Yes, Jeff Bridges is good. But so what? Even a great actor and a great performance can do just so much with crappy material, and God is this material crappy. I should have been prepared for that, as it's based on a portion of a John Irving novel. True to Irving form, the premise of this film tries too hard to provoke and the results seem arbitrary and juvenile.
It's a shame, because there could have been an interesting story here. O.k. so two parents trying to deal with the grief of losing children isn't exactly new, but handled well that kind of story can always be effective. And the added complexity of having Kim Basinger's character turn to a teenage lover as a sort of surrogate for her two lost boys should have added some spice to the drama. So why does this film just limp along lamely, culminating in a cliché, "here's what happened" finale. Don't bother....
I liked this film far more than I had expected. There's not really a great deal of suspense in this, even though it seems like you're waiting for a big reflation. I don't usually care for child actors, but little Elle Fanning was quite creditable. And I have never seen a film with Jeff Bridges in it, that he was not absolutely believable in whatever sort of part he plays. Same here. Bridges is not my favorite actor, but give the guy the credit due him. His Ted Cole character was complicated, a little bizarre, and somewhat unsympathetic. But you still were interested in him nonetheless. Kim Basinger was also very good in a challenging and quite unsympathetic role. In spite of Marian Cole's behavior, she still held my interest and some degree of understanding. Kudos to Mimi Rogers for her courageous nude scene at her age. I think she still looks fantastic. Bijou Phillips disappears into a tiny part. Overall, in spite of some crude and cruel behavior by the characters, this is a very good movie.
I haven't been so angered by a movie for a long time. I can forgive well intentioned films that fail on some accounts. Certain movies badness even may hold some special charm. But nothing is as riling as pure pretentiousness.
Director Tod Williams clearly set out to make a "deep", "meaningful" film. Every frame, every sentence cries out, take note as to how deep and meaningful this is. In reality the main characters are so lacking in substance thanks to an atrocious screenplay, that it is well neigh impossible to evoke any kind of empathy at all. In fact, they wind up a pretty annoying bunch. The inner dialog that seems to taking place is that this film is saying, you are watching a great piece of art, while you are answering, no, this is crap. Art isn't easy.
Jeff Bridges turns in a memorable performance, despite the stilted, unnatural dialog his is asked to spew. Kim Basinger comes off less well, since her character is so inherently untrue. It's not her fault, nobody could make this role work, it just is not possible. What possessed poor Mimi Rodgers to join this project ? She gets to be scrupulously filmed in the nude, in perhaps not the most flattering manner, and then is required to turn manic; all this owing to her obsession with the Bridges character. It's all pretty ludicrous stuff dealt up with much heavy handed seriousness.
While well shot, this movie is a lesson in shoddy editing. Scenes terminate too soon, or no not soon enough, jumping to other scenes with absolutely no sense of rhythm or style.
To this unfortunate concoction is added a tired, downright boring musical soundtrack, more suitable to television melodrama than to so called serious cinema.
I have always felt that John Irving's books simply do not need to be made into films. "Garp", "New Hampshire" and "Cider House Rules" only managed showed brief glimpses of Irving's unique literary charms and to my mind, somewhat spoiled these novels which I found so enjoyable. Those were made by reputable directors such as George Roy Hill and Tony Richardson. Irving should certainly not have entrusted his novel in the hands of novice Tod Williams.
Another film this time masterful constituted of writing about writing. Some of it troubles, some satisfies.
First, the terrible. The novel worked very hard to make it clear that the nature of the world revealed is the world we live in. That's what makes the writing so powerful. We together with our surrogate the young writer discover this about our world and our place within it.
This does not survive the transition to film. Film has a strong almost unavoidable "noir" tradition, where an unsuspecting Joe gets caught up in a weird, artificial world. Unfortunately, the people involved here chose to exploit this tradition. That means we get a parade of the strange that we can observe from the outside rather than discovering we are in it.
The good news is that as long as that is the game, these folks know how to do it. The position that used to be held by the reader is now reduced to the little girl.
The whole thing revolves around one scene, as these often are. The scene is when Kim's character leaves. She spends a moment with her husband, the stunted writer of what we see. That one moment brings the two cosmologies together, those of the film and the book. It is all in Kim's face, which hosts a symphony of intents and regrets. It is what we expected in Halle Barry's face at a similar moment that all of "Monster's Ball," builds to, the end on the back stoop.
I wish this were as potentially life-altering and subversive as the book. Instead, it is merely well done drama, better than usual but something we can merely watch.
A cousin of mine recommended me this movie, I just saw it and I should say that I liked it more than I thought, Since the first sequence you feel a solid structure and well constructed characters, which is not often easy to find, I assume that being based on a novel helps a lot in the plot, but an adaptation to make a movie is not as easy as it seems, and in this case I have to say that the movie has many good things that works along the plot, for instance the flow, the paintings, the pictures, the music and photography, and off course the performances, all excellent played, from the little Elle Fanning (Who has been in several good movies)to Jeff bridges and Kim Basinger, the other actors Jhon foster and Mimi Rogers all did a very good job as well.
And the details as the Jeff Bridges' character(Ted Cole) says are very important.
I say surprise because I had never heard of this film until it popped up on a UK satellite channel recently. Like so many other 'smaller' films from across the world, I suspect it never achieved significant cinema release in the UK. This is a real quality film in all departments, the story, the direction, the acting, the location, everything. Bridges confirms his status as one of the most interesting actors of his generation, not only because his laconic style and obvious craft are always a pleasure to watch but because he has this knack (or intelligence and skill) to select material that is never less than good and occasionally excellent. Kim Basinger continues to grow more interesting and watchable with age and the other cast members are professional, discreet they can act! Each to their own I know but for me, this film represents the best that American cinema can produce and equal to anything from anywhere is the world. A delight for the film-goer that has a mature outlook and enjoys seeing stories about human drama, no guns, no CGI special effects, just good honest quality. If you have the chance to see it, I recommend this film highly.
I felt very depressed watching this movie. The ending of the movie really got to me ,what was under the door ,I felt obsessed to find out. I did not feel really good at the end. I didn't no how i felt. all I know it was well done and it got me thinking. The characters seemed so privileged to be put in this spot and I didn't know where the story line was leading till the end. It seemed so final at the end. I didn't understand the ending until i thought and thought about it. I thought Kim basinger and bridges where very good in it. The movie did have some spots that where a little light and thank God for that relief. I have to go out and buy the book and compare the read to the movie. Maybe i will under stand it better...Bill