The Door in the Floor Review
Jeff Bridges and Kim Basinger first starred together in a movie called Nadine, back in the Eighties. Going their own separate ways, both forged solid careers for themselves but neither made it to the top, despite some good movies along the way. Bridges' will always be remembered for the phenomenal Big Lebowski, Basinger will probably always be infamous for 9 ½ weeks, but both had a great deal of assistance from their residual fame: Bridges had his family name and Basinger had her supermodel career and marriage to Alec Baldwin. Come the new millennium and both are seemingly lost to the Big Time forever, despite bit roles in movies here and there to prove that they are still alive. Then Basinger did the rather enjoyable Cellular last year and now we have The Door in the Floor, reuniting the pair for a potentially powerful drama.
“There was a little boy who didn't know if he wanted to be born. His mommy didn't know if she wanted him to be born either. They lived in a cabin in the woods on an island in a lake, and there was no one else around. And in the cabin there was a door in the floor.”
Chronicling one summer in the life of 'famous' children's book author Ted Cole, we follow him and his family through their seemingly endless ups and downs practically isolated on a small island. Cole has a beautiful wife - Marion - and a young daughter, but none of them are happy following a trauma that goes only hinted at so, one day, he decides to try a trial separation over the summer. He hires a budding young writer, Edward, to serve an apprenticeship over this period, but pretty soon the young man finds himself more intrigued by Ted's life than Ted's work. Uneasy in the company of similarly aged girls he slowly befriends Ted's lonely wife and, as you might suspect, one thing leads to another with unexpected consequences.
Based on the novel A Widow for One Year that was written by and written by John Irving, who also wrote the Award-winning Michael Caine vehicle, The Cider House Rules, The Door in the Floor is a quaint little tale of sexual awakening and reawakening amidst these unusual people. Jeff Bridges is on top form as a very Lebowski-esque layabout who spends his days eating cheese, drinking wine and seducing women under the pretext of wanting their 'artistic input' into his work, oblivious to what he is losing until it is lost. Hard to like, his neglect of not only his wife but also his new protégé allows for you to become intrigued by the lesser-known members of the cast. In particular, the young Jon Foster, who plays his young apprentice, excels and is utterly convincing as an inexperienced sexually charged young man. One of Tom Cruise's ex's, Mimi Rogers, who found sporadic fame in films like Narrow Margin, gets a brief moment to shine as Ted's muse and prove that - despite her age - she's still understandably happy to take her clothes off. Elle Fanning, who I suspect is Dakota's younger sister, proves herself to be a brilliant young contender in the role of the young daughter Ruth, sure-footedly following in her older sibling's footsteps. We also get a moment with Bijou Philips, from Larry Clark's Bully, still wearing those same sexy hot-pants and here playing the teenage babysitter, Alice, that Ted's young apprentice finds himself distinctly uneasy around.
Lastly, but far from least, we have Kim Basinger playing Marion, a fairly quiet and shy middle-aged woman intrigued by the passion such a young, inexperienced boy has for her and finding herself rediscovering her own passion, which she thought she had lost a long time ago. Basinger is superb, underplaying it just to the right extent, whilst still looking absolutely stunning. On the weight of her performance in L.A. Confidential and, more recently this and Cellular, I would not be surprised if she started getting bigger and bigger roles in increasingly mainstream movies. I welcome this comeback for both her and Bridges and recommend this movie to those of you who want to see them shine once more.
“Don't ever. Not ever. Never. Never. Never. Open the door in the floor.”