The Door in the Floor

Director: Tod Williams

Transferring the work of author John Irving from page to screen is a challenging task, as seen in other attempts including George Roy Hill’s disappointing The World According to Garp and Lasse Hallstrom’s masterful The Cider House Rules. However in the hands of a man who proved in a previous film (The Adventures of Sebastian Cole) his earnest love of storytelling and admiration for eccentric characters, the gamble pays off. In writer/director Tod Williams’s remarkable and emotionally wrenching, haunting and literary adaptation of Irving’s A Widow for One Year, Jeff Bridges stars as successful children’ author and artist Ted Cole whose marriage to the gorgeous Marion (Kim Basinger) has been on the rocks since the tragic deaths of their two sons. In an act of desperation, Cole opts to hire aspiring writer Eddie (Jon Foster), a bright, handsome high school junior, to serve as his assistant, helping out with odd tasks from tracking down squid ink to playing chauffer for Ted, Marion and their young daughter Ruth (Elle Fanning). While at first Eddie is eager to learn what it takes to become a writer, he soon realizes that he’s caught into the web of matrimonial betrayal and secrecy as he embarks on an affair with Marion and has trouble adapting to the many whims and unpredictable mood swings of the wild, self-indulgent Ted. Bridges and Basinger turn in some of their finest work and Williams’s direction is always tasteful and assured even when dealing with some unsavory events and shocking twists. The Door in the Floor is an emotional and psychological tour de force. Writers will especially want to give the moving film a second look as some of the anecdotes and stories (including that of the title) seasoned throughout the film hold an even greater meaning and provide extensive layers during repeat viewings.