This is a tale about fate. We all have wondered and asked ourselves questions like ”What if I hadn’t overslept?” ”What if Elvis’ twin had survived?” (ok, the last one was a random but true one!). In the aftermath of 9/11, many attributed survival to simply hitting snooze on the alarm, or missing the train, getting a call just before they stepped out etc.
Though Sliding Doors does not quite carry the gravitas of the 9/11 what ifs, it does explore BOTH sides of Helen’s (Paltrow) life which hinges on the moment when she narrowly caught the train and when she just missed it. Her day begins with getting ready for work and as she arrives late at a meeting she is unjustifiably sacked from her PR job. As she nears the train home, a little girl steps in her path causing her to miss her train. And then before your eyes, the film rewinds and the same little girl is pulled aside by her mother and Helen just catches her train. Thus begin the parallel stories.
In scenario 1 (where she missed the train) she remains clueless about her boyfriend Gerry’s infidelity (played by suitably slimy John Lynch) with his ex-girlfriend Lydia (Tripplehorn). In scenario 2 (where she caught the train) she is forced to interact with a very chatty James Hammerton (John Hannah is charming & funny) and as she arrives home catches Gerry in the act and storms out to get drunk where she meets James again.
Without giving too much away, we get two Helen’s who are not that distinguishable from each other bar the new hairstyles exploring 2 possibilities. It’s an intelligent romantic comedy. Don’t expect it to blow you away or anything but it’s a great story with Paltrow as the charming funny Helen (and a freakishly spot-on British accent). The story is not meant to be dramatic or change any lives but it does deliver – even when the two stories diverge. An interesting plot with a sci-fi spin and charming leads – one to be enjoyed on a night in or simply to take pride of place in your DVD collection as something slightly different and original from the rest of the usual chick flicks.