Movie Review – The Door in The Floor (2004) – Part 1

Movie Review – The Door in The Floor (2004) – Part 1

The silence, misfortune or illness of a child is bad enough an experience for most parents I know. I cannot imagine what the pain and experiencing of losing not one but TWO sons would be like. And I’m not talking about losing them at the battle field or some other high-risk ecosystem for which they are trained and ready. We’re talking about losing them on the way back from a great ski vacation, when the world feels like a flush royal hand. That’s the kind of tragedy which fuels the hidden engine of this great film based on the first one-third of a John Irving novel, “A Widow for One Year” (1998).

The plot line is noticeably simple – a famous children’s author Ted Cole (brought to life like a summer breeze by Jeff Bridges) invites the 19 year old Exeter junior Eddie O’Hare (played by a perfectly cast John Foster) for a summer internship position to his home on an island off the affluent Hamptons, New York.

What the innocent and angel-like Eddie does not know when he steps off the island ferry is that he is truly stepping into “the door on the floor” — the boiling cauldron of a marriage on the rocks and fast dissolving. Cole’s grieving wife Marion (played with fascinating courage by Kim Bassinger) soon gets tangled up in a steaming sexual relationship with Eddie, a relationship fueled more by Marion’s immense longing for her sons (believe it or not) than Ted’s philandering neglect of his beautiful wife.

Ted and Marion Cole are probably two of the most complicate characters I’ve watched on screen for a long while. In terms of sheer layering of conflicting values and psychic pressures, Denzel Washington’s portrayal of a police detective out of his thoroughness in “Inside Man” (2006) comes to mind. However neither Ted nor Marion characters here travel the redeeming transformative arc that Denzel’s detective does.

The ending of this film is pretty much preordained and not much of a surprise. But if you read John Irving’s comprehensive novel you’ll see the kind of transformation that Marion goes by that brings a satisfying closure to this tragic (and much longer) story.

(Continues in Part 2)

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