Challenging, unique script, beautifully directed and edited9/10
"The Door in the Floor" may be one of the best movies so far this year. It offers a moving experience and memorable characters that you will not soon forget.
The story is an adaptation of the best-selling novel, "A Widow for One Year" by John Irving (who also wrote "The World According to Garp" and "The Cider House Rules"). I haven't read the book, but the screenplay by writer/director Tod Williams is so good that it's hard to imagine that it doesn't do justice to its source. (Apparently, the book spans many decades in the life of this family; that's certainly a different approach than what is presented in the film.) Applause to Tod again for his brilliant direction in which he obtains sensitive, extraordinary performances from the sterling cast.
Jeff Bridges is sublime as Ted Cole, a children's book author. His character dominates the plot and it's an Academy Award level portrayal. Bridges only gets better with time, and he is at the top of his form here. In a more understated, introspective role, Kim Basinger plays Ted's wife, Marion Cole. It's another performance deserving of Academy Award notice. Basinger's beauty is only exceeded by the depth of her acting ability. Elle Fanning, younger sister of the talented ten-year-old Dakota Fanning ("I Am Sam", "The Cat in the Hat", "Man on Fire") is an amazing, natural talent as young Ruth, daughter of Ted and Marion.
Jon Foster plays teenaged Eddie O'Hare in yet another superlative job of acting in this movie. Mimi Rogers supports well as Mrs. Vaughn. Her filmography notes she was born in January 1956, which makes her 48 years old. Few actresses would have the ability to play this movie role. She appears in a tense scene, fully nude, and filmed from every angle while she is revolved on a life model's turntable. Wow! More power to her!
"The Door in the Floor" title comes from one of Ted's children's books. We hear the story as Ted does a reading before a local audience. It is clear from the outset that the Cole family is in a state of severe distress, which relates to earlier losses of two sons. Writer/director Tod Williams is masterful in carrying the audience through the gradual and painful exposition of what happened to the couple's children, Tommy and Timothy.
Pleased be aware that all of the principals (except Ruthie) are seen in various stages of nudity in this film -- front, side, back and on top of one another. Everything is shown with great subtlety and sensitivity within the delicate context of the film. There was certainly no prurient interest in any of it. All of the nude scenes are handled in a realistic and matter-of-fact way. For example, little Ruthie sees her father naked, which some viewers may find objectionable, but which certainly works within the context of this film.
This is a movie for all seasons. It's still early in the year and we can only hope that "The Door in the Floor," with its wonderful script, direction, editing, and acting, will still be remembered as we approach nominations for the best films at the end of the year. Go out of your way to see this A++ accomplishment.