The Door In The Floor is an incredibly faithful adaptation of the John Irving novel A Widow For One Year, the only one of his that I have actually read. The attention to minute details from the book is astounding, and at times I wondered how many viewers would grasp the subtler moments of the film if they hadn’t read the novel first.
The major surprise with The Door In The Floor is that it covers less than half of the novel. I kept expecting the film to jump forward in time, but it ended kind of abruptly. Whilst disappointing in many ways, this was probably the only fair way to adapt the story without watering down many of the themes. By adapting only this first section of the book Tod Williams managed to beautifully capture the essence of Irving’s characters.
The performances are fantastic. Jeff Bridges is particularly impressive, managing to sway from apathetic resignation to wounded to sleaze with aplomb. This role was perfect for him. Kim Basinger does a good job with the role of Marion, although it’s hard to sympathise with such a numb and distant character. Elle Fanning, younger sister of Dakota is particularly brilliant, and as far as I’m concerned captured the role of Ruth perfectly.
One of the best things about The Door In The Floor is that it was exactly how I had imagined it when reading the book. I’m all for chopping and changing source material to make a better film, (I thought Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was the best of the franchise), but when you have an author like John Irving whose books are so close to films anyway, it would be a shame to stray too far. It’s a similar story with Stephen King – excepting their sometimes extraordinary length, his books simply feel like films, not to mention the fact that he and Irving write in a similar style.
I can’t imagine fans of the book being disappointed by this adaptation (excepting a highly fussy friend of mine), as Tod Williams has brought A Widow For One Year to the screen with confidence and skill.Rating: