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  • Sliding Doors
    • Sliding Doors
    • Runtime:99 min
    • Release Date:2014-10-01 22:34:05
    • Director: Peter Howitt
    • Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance
    • Studio:
MOVIE REVIEW:Sliding Doors
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*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I love it when filmmakers experiment. Christopher Nolan's been known to
do that, and even though his biggest films have been the two recent
Batman films – both are experiments of their own, his greatest
achievements involve the wildly original Memento. Sliding Doors delved
into uncharted territory for 1998 and beyond; not since then has a
movie tackled such an interesting concept. Kudos to the writer/director
Peter Howitt for creating such a refreshing and unique take on the
romantic comedy.

You have to ask yourself…what would've happen if…or what could've
become of…with a concept like this.

Helen (Paltrow) leaves her aimless, writer boyfriend in the A.M. and
heads to her P.R. job only to get "shacked." When she tries to enter
the subway back home, one of two significant things happen that a
little girl prevents: She gets on and finds both a new male, James
(Hannah) and her old beau in bed with Basic Instinct's Jeanne
Tripplehorn who plays the mistress, Lydia…OR…she misses the train and
after a nasty spell, carries on with her life with her mischievous and
user boyfriend.

Brilliantly the movie takes us in two overlapping directions with two
"Helen"s both of whom, thanks to the wonderful acting of Paltrow, you
root for.

Here's one aspect I actually didn't like, but didn't hinder my overall
view of the film: the Helen that knows of the affair, cuts her hair
short and blonde – a la another 1990s icon: Jane Mancini (Josie Bissett
of Melrose Place), so that it's dumbed down enough for the audience to
determine between that Helen and the original brown and long-haired
Helen's story. It's as if they didn't have enough confidence in the
audience that they would know where one story's going and the other's
headed. I got it already. One Helen's melancholy, though pushing
forward with the new James and the other's working multiple jobs due to
losing her P.R. employment.

Nevertheless and again, you'll watch each storyline unfold with
overlapping scenes that were filmed exquisitely with ease, tension,
suspense, romance and harboring a fantastic and absolute 1990s
soundtrack. Wow, I used to love Aqua! Back to the story… You'll follow
Helen 1 and 2 on their parallel quests to meet up with fate. Will Helen
2 learn of her dead-beat boyfriend's infidelity? Will Helen 1 learn
James is her soul mate? Will any of this make sense and what will we
gain from it? I loved this movie. I loved the originality of it. I
loved the acting – both Hannah and Paltrow were excellent. I loved the
cinematography and the overlapping scenes.

The movie's not 100% perfect – it starts to run out of steam with its
own ideas, but the director was well enough aware to know when to cut
his losses and finish off the movie. But, I challenge anyone to come up
with another 5 movies that are as original as this or another favorite
of mine, Memento. But a movie can't survive on a premise or gimmick
alone; the movie must have the right writing and talent in front of the
screen to pull it off. And this enormously romantic comedy hits all the
angles.

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Sliding Doors is written and directed by Peter Howitt. It stars Gwyneth
Paltrow and John Hannah, and features John Lynch, Jeanne Tripplehorn
and Virginia McKenna. The music was composed by David Hirschfelder and
Remi Adefarasin photographs it on location in Londion. The film follows
Helen Quilley (Paltrow), who has just been fired from her public
relations job. The plot then splits into two parallel universes based
on if she either did or did not get onto the London tube train to get
home.

Peter Howitt is more known to the British for his portrayal of Joey in
the hugely popular sit-com, Bread. Here for his first full length
directing assignment he tackles the romantic comedy genre and gives it
an intelligent and witty kick up the backside. Howitt apparently had
the idea for the film when he was almost run over by a car, the whole
"what if?" situation worked around his mind and ended up being Sliding
Doors. The premise is tricky but executed with skill, two dovetailing
stories featuring the same people. To expand on each story would to my
mind be unfair on any prospective newcomers to the film, it's just safe
to say that infidelity features prominently and that as funny as it is
at times, it's also an often sombre and cautionary piece as well.

The cast are a mixed bunch. Hannah and Paltrow are superb, he is funny,
charming and utterly beguiling, yet a world away from the normal pretty
boy types so favoured by film makers. She is, on both fronts, engaging,
infuriating and commanding the utmost attention from the viewers. You
will find yourself shouting at her sometimes, yet at others you may
find your heart sinking such is the conflicted emotional depth that
Paltrow gives Helen. And this is done not by bursting into tears or any
sort of "the world is against me" histrionics, it's played very
straight because her Helen is no lame dame. Credit too must go to
Howitt who chooses not to go down the safe route of playing the tears
to get tears rom-com card. Sadly the two other main players are a big
let down, Lynch just never convinces as boyfriend Gerry, while
Tripplehorn as the ex stirring up a hornets nest is whiny and Persona
Non Grata. The big winner here tho is Howitt's writing, his directing
is raw and often too in your face, but the script breaks away from
formula and constantly nudges the audience into asking pertinent "what
if?" questions. There's nothing complex about it, just slices of
destiny and fate that can alter within seconds. For better or worse.

No smugness here, and this is better than the average rom-coms that
seem to be put out by cash hungry studios on a monthly basis. Is it
just a rom-com with a gimmick? Yes it is, but what a gimmick! And come
the end as the two stories bang together you hopefully should feel all
the better for it. Hope springs eternal my friends. 7.5/10

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