Sliding Doors (1998)

Written and Directed by Peter Howitt
Starring Gwyneth Paltrow, John Hannah, John Lynch, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Zara Turner

My Advice: Matinee.

Helen (Paltrow) is not having the best of days.  Not only did she get fired today, but she missed the tube, and wound up having her life split in two.  Don't you hate it when that happens?  In one reality, she makes the tube and goes home early to find her live-in boyfriend Gerry (Lynch) in bed with his ex (Tripplehorn).  In the other, she misses it and thus gets home later, finding that everything seems to be as right as rain.  The movie takes us down the two divergent paths of Helen's life as in one she stays with the boyfriend and in the other she meets James (Hannah), who might actually be a decent guy.

In the same vein as Four Weddings, this film wants to show us the agony and the ecstasy (and the humor, lots of it) in love and romance.  But its gimmick is the two different realities moving in parallel, and it pays off.  There are neat touches present like the slight cut on Helen #1's forehead so a bandaid can help us keep the two realities straight.  Later, Helen #2 gets a haircut.  The two Helens are always nearby each other geographically with slight differences in what's going on.  You'll be watching Helen #2 cheering on a boat race and then see Helen #1 moping along the bridge.  It's priceless stuff.

Couple all of this cleverness with great performances by Paltrow and Hannah, and you've got a winner.  In addition to them, I'd like to point out that Douglas McFerran, who plays Gerry's confidant, is hilarious.  He comments, such as referring to his friend as a "morality-free zone," are great.  Good solid British humor with a great cast and I can't wait for Howitt's next one.

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