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The Door in the Floor

Genre: Drama
Rated: R
Directed by: Tod Williams
Produced by: Ted Hope and Anne Carey
Released by: Focus Features

In Short: The Door in The Floor presents fine performances by Jeff Bridges and Kim Basinger but the heavy-handed symbolism will leave some viewers happy to find the door in the theater.

No Exit
Unlocking The Door in The Floor
By Claudine Prescot

Meet the Coles. Father and children’s book author, Ted (Jeff Bridges), and mother and housewife, Marion (Kim Basinger), have all the trappings of the modern, affluent East Coast movie family: the Pottery Barn-styled beach estate, the precocious four-year-old daughter (Elle Fanning), the squash court, the wealthy Ivy League friends, the Mercedes convertible, the Volvo station wagon, the voluptuous nanny (Bijou Phillips). As the story unfolds and the less tidy details of the Coles’ life emerge—the family tragedy, the pending divorce—they write a bright, young summer intern, Eddie (Jon Foster), into their sordid tale.

Eddie has come to study Ted’s genius, only he soon learns that Ted is merely a self-centered, bullying roué whose acclaimed books have stemmed from his childrens’ fears. A shallow man of some celebrity, Ted is hardly prepared for the quasi-Oedipal tragedy evolving under his roof. His vague instructions and dalliances leave repressed Eddie with plenty of time to discern the motives of his surrogate summer parents. Physical and emotional doors open unexpectedly throughout the film, leaving one to wonder where the locks are—the device of surprise wears thin around incident No. 3. Bridges drinks in the role of the eccentric ogre: His craggy insouciance fits the part to a tee. Basinger also plays her part with gusto, much of it in the nude, but at this stage in her career, she deserves better than a skin flick.

Screenwriter and director Tod Williams follows a tradition of filmmakers drawn like moths to a flame by John Irving novels, attracted no doubt by the cinematic language and vivid detail. Williams emerges slightly singed from his adaptation of Irving’s A Widow For One Year, seemingly unable to soft-pedal the symbolism.

To wit: Moments before Marion seduces Eddie, he interprets for her a Latin phrase that appears in a family photograph: “Here boys become men.” Okay, we get it, Tod. When Ted first meets Eddie, he explains to him that because his books have just 500 words, the text requires constant revision to find “le mot juste.” Perhaps Williams could have followed that route with the screenplay.

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