Seen at the Movies:

The Door in the Floor

has a classy pedigree: it’s adapted from a chunk of John Irving’s novel A Widow for One Year, and it stars Jeff Bridges and Kim Basinger in their middle-aged prime; the situations are adult, and direction, by Tod Williams, is nuanced. Nonetheless, I found the film to be distasteful and a chore to sit through. Bridges and Basinger play the Ted and Marion Cole, a children’s book author/illustrator and his wife who are grieving over a loss that is not fully specified for a stretch. They are joined at their Hamptons retreat by a teenage assistant (Jon Foster), who begins an affair with Marion, seemingly with the approval of her husband. It’s not like Ted can object too strenuously, since he’s in the habit of seducing and degrading local women. But a lot of nasty feelings get dredged up anyway, and the summer ends badly.

The Door In The Floor
photo: Focus Features

I found most of the characters in The Door in the Floor to be hateful and twisted, and the film as a whole to be emotionally vacant. It’s also done in a high-Wasp style that just doesn’t speak to me. Terry Stacey’s cinematography is so cool and pristine that the movie seems to sport a coating of Scotch-Gard, and both Thérèse DePrez’s production design and Eric Daman’s costumes are suffused with Hamptons white. The title derives from one of Ted’s stories, and refers to the things that are hidden and to be feared. The story as read seems bizarrely ill-suited to children, not because of its subject matter but because of its language and tone, and the illustrations that accompany it are off-key as well. Bridges has always been one of my favorite actors, but I began to think of Ted—who likes to strut around naked, often with his four-year-old daughter in tow—as a latent child molester, and couldn’t see past this obvious misperception. Despite the success of The Cider House Rules, Irving remains one of the most difficult authors to adapt.--John Calhoun

The Door In The Floor adapted from a John Irving novel for the screen
photo: Focus Features