Home Movies by Decade Movies - 1990s Sliding Doors (1998)

Sliding Doors (1998)

Gwyneth Paltrow, sporting a credible English accent, plays Helen, a London-based public relations exec who gets fired on the same day that her sleazy writer-boyfriend, Gerry (John Lynch) is having it off in their flat with his ex-love Lydia (Jeanne Tripplehorn).

On her way home, the distraught Helen just misses her train as the sliding doors of a Tube carriage close on her.

Here’s the gimmick. Writer/director Peter Howitt, in a frisky feature debut, backs up and starts again.

Helen catches the train, arrives home to find Gerry and Lydia at it and walks out. She starts seeing James (John Hannah), a sympathetic stranger she meets on the Tube.

Howitt divides the film into two realities. In the first, Helen gets home too late to catch Gerry in the act and remains a dupe. In the second, fate connects Helen with a new job, a new man and new confidence.

The part in which Helen doesn’t meet James drags. The rest effervesces, thanks to Howitt’s deft writing – when he isn’t pushing cute to the cringe level.

The actors sparkle, with the exception of Tripplehorn, whose character is inexplicably written and played as a caricatured bitch.

Paltrow has rarely been this sly or bewitching.

And Hannah, who delivered the memorable eulogy to his gay lover in Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994) – which this film accidentally on purpose resembles – proves himself a world-class charmer.

Definitely the date-night movie of choice for incurable romantics.

Gwyneth Paltrow
John Hannah
John Lynch
Jeanne Tripplehorn
Zara Turner
Douglas McFerran
Paul Brightwell
Nina Young
James’s Mother
Virginia McKenna
Kevin McNally

Peter Howitt