tek's rating: ½

Sliding Doors (PG-13)
Great but Forgotten; IMDb; Miramax; Paramount; Rotten Tomatoes; TV Tropes; Wikipedia

This came out in 1998. I think I must have seen it on TV (or possibly VHS, but I doubt it) sometime in the early 2000s. I'm writing this review after watching it for the second time, on DVD, in 2018. (I also want to mention that over the years, I've probably confused the movie, slightly, with "The Family Man," which came out a couple years after this, and which I probably saw on TV sometime within the same span of years that I saw this.) And... after watching the DVD, I must say that nothing other than the basic gimmick of the movie is familiar to me, so... if I didn't have such a complete distrust of my memory, I'd say maybe I hadn't seen the movie before. But I do distrust my memory, so I'd say there's at least a 55% chance I have seen it.

Anyway, Gwyneth Paltrow plays a woman named Helen, who works in PR. At the start of the movie, she gets sacked, so she goes home early. However, the movie plays out in alternating timelines, one where she caught the subway, and one where she didn't. In the latter scenario, she's the victim of an attempted mugging, which results in a minor head injury, which requires stitches. So for awhile, the bandage on her head helps differentiate the timelines. Well, the Helen who catches the subway meets a man named James (John Hannah), whom she had actually encountered briefly in an elevator, earlier. Later, when she gets home, she finds that her boyfriend, Gerry, is having an affair with a woman named Lydia (Jeanne Tripplehorn). So she breaks up with him, and goes to stay with her best friend, Anna. (Incidentally, Gerry is played by John Lynch, but the whole time I was watching the movie, I thought he looked exactly like Adrien Brody.) In the other timeline, Lydia is gone by the time Helen gets home, so she remains with Gerry. I should say, the whole time they've been together, she's been supporting him, while he works on a novel. And now, she gets a job as a waitress, and also makes deliveries, to continue supporting him. Meanwhile, Gerry occasionally talks with his friend Russell, who is pretty funny, but quite rightly not very sympathetic to Gerry's "problem." (To be fair, I kind of thought Gerry seemed to genuinely be in love with both women, so I thought maybe if polyamory were more commonly accepted, it wouldn't necessarily be an issue. Still, given Gerry's dishonesty, regardless of his feeling bad about the whole situation, I couldn't feel any sympathy for him.)

At one point, I was thinking... the two Helens are supposed to be differentiated by one being blonde and the other brunette. And I couldn't see any difference. And I could totally think that was my own failing, because honestly, sometimes I really can't tell a difference that other people apparently can. But about the time I started thinking that, the Helen who had left Gerry got her hair dyed blond. So it wasn't my obliviousness, it was just that up to that point, they'd both been brunette. And it's a good thing she changed her hair, because by that time, the Helen who had stayed with Gerry no longer had a bandage on her head. Anyway, the blonde Helen becomes friends with James, who encourages her to start her own PR firm. And the two of them become increasingly close... though it seems as though James may in fact be keeping a secret from Helen, about another woman in his life. I don't really want to spoil the truth about that, though. And actually, I guess I don't want to divulge any more details of the plot. But there are interesting parallels between the two timelines. And... yeah, that's all I want to say.


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