Top positive review
8 people found this helpful
Everything happens for the best. You'll never know if you don't try.
on 10 February 2011
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