A grieving author/illustrator and his wife take on a 16-year-old intern to do odd jobs. However, the youngster's role increases as the couple struggle to keep their relationship afloat.

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There isn\'t much pathos, in spite of the melancholy mood and the pall of tragedy that hangs over the film.

Early notoriety of movies like The World According To Garp (1982) and The Hotel New Hampshire (1984), plus the more recent Oscar success of The Cider House Rules (1999) have guaranteed a continued interest in the adaptation of John Irving?s particular brand of quirky American novel to the big screen. The latest is The Door In The Floor, the fifth book of Irving?s to be made in to a movie, based on the 1999 bestseller Widow For A Year, a tragic tale about family loss, a marriage breaking down and desperate love affairs.Anyone familiar with Irving?s books (or the films made out of them) will instantly recognise the distinct Irving-esque territory of Door In The Floor. It?s another tale set in the privileged Hamptons, featuring Irving?s fictional eccentric writer-come-athlete alter ego, and a flirtation with taboo subject matter and deep sadness which taints a family. I must admit there is something kind of alluring about the idea of Jeff Bridges spending most of his time in a movie drunk and dressed in a caftan, which is exactly what he does in The Door In The Floor. He?s not exactly the ?Dude? from The Big Lebowski (1998) but the slight echoes from that contemporary counterculture movie character cannot go unnoticed). Jeff Bridges is perhaps the best cinema embodiment of the archetypal Irving character put on screen so far. He plays Ted Cole, a successful children?s author/illustrator and giant bear of a man, who is in the middle of watching his life ? and marriage - unravel. The truth be told, Ted has become a bit of a hack, telling and re-telling the same stories over and over in order to get women into his studio and ultimately into bed. His wife Marion ? Kim Basinger in one of the most downbeat roles of her career ? is suffering from depression and harbouring an unmitigated anger towards her husband, who she may or may not blame for the recent death of their two teenage sons. ?Connecting? with and looking after their young daughter Ruth (Elle Fanning, Dakota?s sister) has been left to the teenage babysitter and Ted, while the Coles? estrangement is further muddied when Ted hires a 16 year-old writing student, Eddie (TV actor Jon Foster) to ?assist? him with his latest novel. It turns out to be Eddie?s ?Summer of ?42? and Ted?s ?annas horribilus??The Door In The Floor was carefully written and directed by Tod Williams who brought us a fabulous little indie film The Adventures of Sebastion Cole in 1998, where he revealed his talent for taking ?quirky? coming-of-age material and fashioning it into a compelling, universal drama. Williams ? aided and abetted by another excellent cast ? has less overall success with Door In The Floor which amounts to not very much other than a bleak misanthropic look at marriage and family. The script is well-drawn, the cast do their utmost to convey the feelings of loss and hopelessness central to the story ? it?s the emotional side of the film that escapes William?s grasp. Which is perhaps not his fault, maybe it has more to do with the original material the film is derived from. Irving?s characters are often so self-serving and selfish that it can be difficult to have very much sympathy for them. And his ideas about the art, love, fidelity, sex and dysfunctional families may appear in this day and age at least a little arcane. They feel out of place now and belong more to another era, let?s say the 70s. Especially the excesses of male artist figure and the war set up between Basinger?s ?bad mum? and Bridges? ?good dad?. It?s all laid on a bit thick.While the film is well made and there is the occasional quiet laugh to be had, there isn?t much pathos, in spite of the melancholy mood and the pall of tragedy that hangs over the film. Which makes watching these flawed characters grapple with what eventuates around them not much fun and ultimately a fairly pointless experience.

Details

MA15+
1 hour 51 min

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