Sliding Doors Blu-ray Review
Starring the future Ms. Pepper Potts
Sliding Doors Film Review
Celebrating its 21st Anniversary, Sliding Doors remains a charming, if dated, directorial debut which - back in 1998 - doubled up with Shakespeare in Love to cement Gwyneth Paltrow's star power.Though an American actress, Paltrow soon became something of a UK favourite with a succession of roles that required from her a relatively posh Brit accent - the period romance Emma, the romantic drama Sliding Doors, and the Oscar Winning Shakespeare in Love, the last of which earned her a Best Actress Oscar at just 26. The status did her no favours though, in the long run, with a series of middling choices hampering her for the next decade; not really returning to stardom until 2008's Iron Man.
Marking the directorial debut of Peter Howitt (who would go on to helm Johnny English), Sliding Doors has a novel semi-sci-fi premise which actually introduces the notion of multiple realities (no, this isn't Endgame), whereupon Paltrow's lead character of Helen goes down two paths, one where she catches a train, and one where she misses it, and both with life-changing results involving her slimy adulterous boyfriend John Lynch (recently in Tin Star Season 2) who is cheating on her with his American ex-girlfriend (Jeanne Tripplehorn - Waterworld), and a potentially amorous encounter with John Hannah's (Agents of SHIELD) mr nice guy.
Hardly a heavyweight production - despite some quite sobering twists - it's a decent enough debut, and a nice showcase for Paltrow
Although the split-reality narrative is largely just a gimmick, it's used quite effectively to forge two possible paths, playing around unpredictably with Helen's life; never going where you might have expected. Lynch is suitably despicable, but it's a thankless role which never feels more than just pathetic, which doesn't always reflect well on the women falling over him, whilst Hannah remains charming and likeable throughout even if he doesn't immediately stand out as leading man material.
It's really left to Paltrow to do the heavy lifting, partnered with Hannah in one reality, whilst she largely goes it alone in the other, and - considering that she had barely made a dent in her filmography by that point, she does an excellent job, committing to a painfully uptight posh Brit accent and enjoying emotional upheaval across both timelines. Hardly a heavyweight production - despite some quite sobering twists - it's a decent enough debut, and a nice showcase for Paltrow, which may well have dated somewhat (it feels a lot older, perhaps due to the setting, than a lot of other films from the era - The Matrix was made just a year later) but is nowhere near as bad as the now-cloying Shakespeare in Love, which was what earned her the Oscar in the very same year.
Sliding Doors Blu-ray PictureSliding Doors curiously hasn't ever had a UK Blu-ray release - nor, it appears, a US release - with Icon Entertainment's Region B-locked UK Blu-ray delivering a strong 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation in the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.78:1 widescreen. Although there's little preceding it to compare it to, this is easily the best the film has ever looked.
As good a video presentation as anybody could have expected or hoped for
Detail is really quite impressive on the piece, picking up on facial nuances, 90s hair styles, clothing and background textures, with no intrusive softness nor overt signs of digital manipulation. There's enough of a natural grain layer to leave it looking suitably filmic, and the colour scheme, however bland it is (perhaps the setting, and period of production doesn't help) is brought to life in the few moments where it shows some lustre. Black levels are strong enough to round out as good a video presentation as anybody could have expected or hoped for.
Sliding Doors Blu-ray SoundThe accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is a perfectly serviceable aural offering, hardly groundbreaking but just as likely - as aforementioned on the video - to be the best the film has ever sounded.
A perfectly serviceable aural offering
Dialogue remains firmly prioritised across the frontal array and, indeed, the track is all-round pretty front-dominated, but effects bring the London Underground noises, traffic sounds and general ambience to life across the array with some competence, further allowing the 90s score to permeate through the channels, even if neither really afford much in the way of LFE input.
Sliding Doors Blu-ray ExtrasAlthough hardly packed to the brim, there are a nice selection of extras to help round out this 21st Anniversary Edition, headlined by not one but two Audio Commentaries, the first accessible through the Audio Options, whilst the second is a partial scene-specific Commentary from star John Hannah.
A nice selection of extras to help round out this 21st Anniversary Edition
A further Behind the Scenes piece, the Original Theatrical Trailer and a series of Previews on startup round out the set.
Sliding Doors Blu-ray VerdictA set that should appeal to fans
Sliding Doors was hardly groundbreaking, but it was an enjoyable enough romantic drama, and an effective enough directorial debut which showcased the early star power of Gwyneth Paltrow in dual starring roles.
This 21st Anniversary Blu-ray release marks the UK and US debut on the format, and delivers it with the best video and audio it's known, as well as a nice few extras to round out a set that should appeal to fans.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £14.99
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