Somewhere between a wedding ring and a bloody tennis
shoe, there is a land where people torture each other to
heal. A place where a husband can hire an assistant to
sexually occupy his wife. A place where a woman can cope with
the death of her children only by re-living it. A place where
a little girl cannot sleep without the comfort of pictures of
her dead brothers.
That place is called "The Door in the Floor", based on the first third of John Irving's novel "A Widow for One Year".
The pawn brought into this tangled web of family is the unsuspecting, aspiring writer Eddie (Jon Foster). He is sixteen years old, fresh out of Exeter for the summer, and he wants to help the great author Theodore Cole in any way he can. Little does he know that the task of personal assistant involves driving the cantankerous writer to his liasons, collecting squid ink, and sleeping with his grieving wife.
The grief that taints the entire movie comes from the death of the teenage sons of Ted (Jeff Bridges) and Marian (Kim Basinger). After "the accident", Ted and Marian move to a wooden house on the beach to raise their young daughter, Ruth. The couple separate temporarily, each to deal with their sorrow in whatever way they can find. Ted hires a young man, Eddie, to run various errands and function as his chauffeur. Marian doesn't seem to do much of anything, but she spends every other night in an apartment in town.
Their daughter, Ruth, is your stereotypical five-year-old movie star, with angelic blonde hair and luminous blue eyes, but she perfectly expresses the vulnerability of a child who never knew her own family. She wears her daddy's pink polo shirt and wakes up with nightmares almost every night. Don't worry, though, Daddy is there to lull her back to sleep with a story about a boy who hears appendage-less rats scurrying in the walls.
The movie is soaked with discomfort. Every five minutes something happens that makes you think "something is seriously wrong here", but that
The acting is unbelievable. Jeff Bridges inhabits one of the most interesting characters I've seen in years. Kim Basinger is an ivory relief sculpture, surging beneath a frozen surface. Jon Foster does a wonderful job of acting as the living narrator, Eddie, the only character with which you can identify. The movie is carefully written and even more carefully directed by Tod Williams.
So, if you are intrigued, good. If you are disgusted, good. Go see the movie, heighten those feelings. Just make sure that you have an hour afterward to discuss all the oddities that you just saw.