Shortly after watching the somewhat similar "We Don't Live Here Anymore", it was interesting to see the different approach with "Door in the Floor", an enjoyably subdued drama starring Jeff Bridges and where's-she-been Kim Basinger. The film stars Bridges as Ted Cole, an older writer who, as the film opens, has just gotten a trial separation from his wife, Marion (Kim Basinger). Ted mainly sits around the house drinking and painting nude models, but occasionally gets around to writing. He's hired an assistant for the Summer, Eddie (Jon Foster), a 16-year-old who happens to look like one of Ted's sons that was killed in an accident. Most of his days are pretty free of work, but occasionally, it falls to Eddie to take care of the couple's daughter, Ruth (Elle Fanning, younger sister of Dakota.)
It's not long before Eddie starts to have feelings for the older Marion, and it's even less time before the older woman drops her barriers against Eddie's advances. The couple's nanny, Alice (Bijou Phillips), is suggested as a possible source of romance, but Eddie continues to have his sights set older and Marion is flattered by the attention. When they're caught in the midst, Eddie isn't in trouble, but he finds himself in the midst of a rather bitter battle. The characters shift and reveal sides of themselves that were previously under the surface. On the other side, there's the troubled housewife (Mimi Rodgers) that Ted's having a fling with. In the middle, there's Ruth, who begins to feel neglected.
There's really no sympathetic characters here (there's not a whole lot of plot, this is a more character-driven piece), but to the actor's credit, they manage to make them all fairly involving. Bridges is expert in shifting his character from somber layabout to more troubled, while Basinger offers a fine portrayal of a wife who has become almost comatose due to her loss and the breakdown of her marriage. If the film had gained more attention during its release, Bridges may have had more chance at getting some awards recognition for his work here. Newcomer Foster is really the only weak link, as although his character is supposed to be pretty mild-mannered, he takes this a little too far and gets overshadowed by everyone else.
"Door in the Floor"'s story stays fairly muted and doesn't disinguish itself quite enough to be as memorable as it could have been, but the picture does offer some very solid performances from Basinger and Bridges.
VIDEO: "Door" is presented by Universal in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. The picture quality is generally first-rate, although some unfortunate flaws are present that keep the transfer from looking as good as it could. Sharpness and detail are perfectly acceptable - the picture appeared crisp and pretty well-defined, although the picture retains a bit of a "soft-focus" look at times that I'm guessing was intentional.
The picture did show some mild edge enhancement at times, which caused a bit of distraction. Some slight traces of pixelation were spotted. The print seemed to be in fine condition, aside from a couple of specks and some rnadom grain. The film's rather warm color palette seemed accurately rendered, with no smearing or other faults.
SOUND: "Door"'s Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation delivers exactly what one might expect from the material. The soundtrack is front-focused, as the entire film is dialogue-driven. The film's enjoyable, elegant score remains crisp and nicely spread across the front speakers.
EXTRAS: A handful of crew participate in the audio commentary: writer/director Tod Williams, cinematographer Terry Stacey, editor Alfonso Goncalves, composer Marco Zarvos and costume designer Eric Daman. Having not previously gotten the chance to celebrate the film, the participants pop some champagne as the track opens.
We also get a few other interesting features, including the "making of", "Frame on the Wall: The Making of The Door in the Floor" and "Novel-to-Screen", which details the adaptation of the John Irving novel. Finally, we get the Sundance Channel documentary, "Anatomy of a Scene".
Final Thoughts: The story didn't involve me as much as I'd have liked and the characters were unlikable, but the performances really kept me interested. Universal's DVD edition provides fine audio/video quality and a nice helping of supplements. Recommended as a rental.
The Film ***