For the last 17 years I’ve occasionally thought to myself “Sliding Doors seems like the sort of movie I would enjoy; I really should sit down and watch it some time”, and yet in all that time I never have.
Why? I really don’t know. Maybe I’ve always thought about watching it in situations where it hasn’t been available. Maybe in the past I’ve looked for it on Sky and it’s not been on, or I’ve browsed and DVD aisle in Tesco and it hasn’t been in stock.
Whatever the reason, on a quiet Friday night in September 2015, I was surfing through Netflix looking for something to watch and there it was.
So I had to put it on.
The question is, did it live up to 17 years of mild hype?
Stuart’s Movie Catch-Up: Sliding Doors Review – What’s It About?
When Helen Quilley (Gwyneth Paltrow) is sacked from her job, she makes her way home via the London Underground. But a split second moment whilst walking down the stairs leads to two different scenarios and therefore two different timelines.
In one, she gets on the train, sits next to James (John Hannah), strikes up a friendship and goes home to discover her boyfriend in bed with another woman.
In the other, she misses the train, never meets James and gets home after her boyfriend’s mistress has left.
Each outcome results in her life taking a dramatically different direction, and we get to see those directions in parallel.
Stuart’s Movie Catch-Up: Sliding Doors Review – Thoughts
That sounds complicated doesn’t it? Perhaps too complicated for some to get to grips with, right?
But it’s not, and that’s very much to Sliding Doors’ credit.
Built on an interesting premise, this manages to be a pretty straightforward and easy to follow romance flick that I imagine most people could sit down and enjoy without getting lost. I say most people, because I imagine there will be some out there (like my mum for example) who find Back to the Future to be alienating and difficult. Those people may not enjoy this.
I did though; I thought it was an entertaining and easy watch. The biggest complement that I could pay it is that on a Friday night after 9pm, I’m surprised I didn’t fall asleep in my chair while it was on.
The main cast all put in a good shift – John Hannah especially – although Paltrow’s English accent was a little bit grating. What was most comical was that in the opening scene, she’s putting on a hammy English accent while English actor Kevin McNally spoke through the dodgiest of American ones.
If I had a criticism of it, it would be – and here’s a spoiler so I’ll type it in white text if you’ve not seen it so click on it to highlight the words – that although it was an interesting premise, it didn’t really have a natural ending beyond one Helen being happy and the other being sad, so they decided that both versions of her would have a serious accident. I’m not sure why they decided to kill off the happy one, and then have the sad one meet James anyway, but they did. I suppose it had to end somehow.
Perhaps my main take-home from Sliding Doors though is that I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie before that is so incredibly ‘Of It’s Time’. The style and quality of camerawork – and incidental music from Dido – could not have been the product of anything other than late 90s Britain. The only way it could have been more obvious was if there was a cameo from Tony Blair and the Spice Girls.
That’s not a criticism though, just an observation.
So Did It Live Up To The Hype?
Having waited so long to watch Sliding Doors, I’m happy to report that I enjoyed it.
It’s a movie based on an interesting premise, and it’s written, directed and acted well.
It gets a thumbs up from me.