The Door in the Floor (2004)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Marriage Drama, Romantic Drama  |   Release Date - Jul 14, 2004 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 111 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Films adapted from novels have a tendency toward the Frankenstein-like messiness of stitched-together parts. The Door in the Floor is messy, but in a good way. Writer/director Tod Williams, who demonstrated a flair for this type of screwed-up family drama with his debut film, The Adventures of Sebastian Cole, wisely chose to adapt only the first part of John Irving's novel A Widow for One Year. This allows him to take his time with the story, with enough space for the small but telling details that might be jettisoned in attempting to convey the entire work, which spans over three decades. The Door in the Floor essentially covers one summer in the lives of these characters, but it's an eventful summer, and the film manages to convey the novel's emotional complexity with a sharply witty script, with bright, open visuals that counterbalance the essential darkness and internality of the tale, and with fine performances. Unsurprisingly, Jeff Bridges is superb, and it's always gratifying to see him tackle a role this prickly, that works against the sense of comfort and ease he generally instills in an audience. The Door in the Floor is not about judgments of right and wrong, but about smart and tragically flawed human beings and how they deal with trauma and grief. The ending of the film is a bit too pat, suggesting a sense of closure that the novel obviously does not provide, but overall it is a fine work, and a step forward for a talented young filmmaker.