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Sliding Doors

Art House & International movie directed by Peter Howitt

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Sliding Doors ~ I coulda been you, you coulda been me

  • Oct 1, 2000
  • by
Pros: What a daring concept

Cons: Do we live in parallel universes?

This movie was recommended to me by Remind and I thought, once again, that I had already seen it so it took a while for me to actually pick it up and give it another shot. Naturally, I hadn't seen it, but then again, after watching the movie - perhaps I had, it is that bizarre!

It stars Gwyneth Paltrow in a dual, perhaps even triple (?) role and left me so confused I had to watch it three times. Still, after all that, I was left wondering......HUH? Did it happen or didn't it happen or is it going to happen?

I am sure that all of you at one point have been confronted with the "What If" theory in life. "What if I turned right instead of left", "What if I would have been 5 minutes earlier and been part of that accident", .... you get the drift. That is what this movie is about. For instance "What if I had gotten fired and returned home early from work and found my boyfriend in bed with another woman" or "What if I got fired, but missed my train, and got home after the deed was done and the lady fair had already left". "What if I met the true love of my life on the train" or "What if he were just on the elevator next to me all along".

In other words, the doors of our universe slide in many directions. If we take the usual course of our lives we sometimes miss the most important things in our lives. Sometimes if we step through the door at a split second off the norm we reinvent our life and ourselves into something entirely different. This movie is about lost chances and changed times. It centers on the idea that if you miss a second in time you sometimes can reinvent your life.

Now the reason I had to watch it three times is because of Paltrow's diverse role in the movie. Fortunately after a bit they cut her hair so that when she changed from her relationship, or slid from the door of her normal world, you knew which Helen she was at the time. So when she was the Helen with the lying, cheating, backstabbing, lowlife boyfriend she had long hair and when she was the Helen with the new, exciting, temptuous, flirting new boyfriend she had snappy, short blonde hair.

My favorite line from the whole movie was when she apparently came home early, catching the lowlife embroiled in the sheets with the fair Lydia (in Helen's own bed - the snake!), and she says "I got sacked today, and apparently so did you". She says this with such a straight face I had to laugh even though it was a painful scene.

This is a British movie but even though they use a lot of the slang common to the Brits, it wasn't as confusing as say The Full Monty because you had no doubt what was being conveyed in their message. It is a thoroughly enjoyable movie, if sometimes confusing, and the ending will leave you scratching your head wondering - did any of this just happen? Thanks Remind for an enjoyable trip!

Starring: Gwyneth Paltrow, Gwyneth Paltrow (well, she played a dual role), John Hannah (the daring new boyfriend), John Lynch (the snake), Jeanne Tripplehorne (the fair lady in Gwen's bed), Zara Turner (Helen's friend that pulls her through thick and thin and gets her that snappy new hairdo). Written and Directed by Peter Howitt (ahhh, there's where the dual role theory came from!)


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Quick Tip by . December 28, 2010
I'm not a fan of Gwyneth Paltrow but this is one of her most memorable movies I've seen. Parallel universe is a very interesting concept and life could have been totally different with just a matter of few minutes! Highly intelligent movie!
review by . June 13, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
If your boyfriend cheated on you, would you rather know or not know? Sliding Doors splits Helen's (Gwyneth Paltrow) into two alternate realities, one in which she walks in on her cheating boyfriend, the other in which she remains oblivious. The movie tracks what happens in both situations. Needless to say, in the reality in which she leaves her boyfriend, she finds another man.     Sliding Doors is a nice idea that doesn't always work. First, the new boyfriend is just a bit too …
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About this movie


Nice concept, shaky execution--that about sums up the mixed blessings of British actor Peter Howitt's intelligent but forgivably flawed debut as a writer-director. It's got more emotional depth than most frothy romantic comedies, and its central idea--the parallel tracking of two possible destinies for a young London professional played by Gwyneth Paltrow--is full of involving possibilities. It's essentially a what-if scenario with Helen (Paltrow) at the center of two slightly but significantly different romantic trajectories, one involving her two-timing boyfriend (John Lynch) and the other with an amiable chap (John Hannah) who represents a happier outcome. That's the film's basic problem, however: The two scenarios are so romantically imbalanced (one guy's a total cad, the other charmingly sincere) that Helen inadvertently comes off looking foolish and needlessly confused. Still, this remains a pleasant experiment, and Howitt's dialogue is witty enough to keep things entertaining. It's also a treat for Paltrow fans; not only does the svelte actress handle a British accent without embarrassing herself, but she gets to play two subtle variations of the same character, sporting different wardrobes and hairstyles in a role that plays into her glamorous off-screen persona.--Jeff Shannon
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Director: Peter Howitt
Genre: Foreign
Screen Writer: Peter Howitt
DVD Release Date: December 1, 1998
Runtime: 99 minutes
Studio: Paramount
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