Blu-ray Review: Sliding Doors (Collector’s Edition)

Every time you make a choice, you alter your future. We’re not talking giant decisions like whether you cut the red or green wire when defusing a bomb. Even the most simple of moments have the capability to completely alter who you are right now. Most of the time we don’t think about it. Is paper or plastic going to completely derail your dreams of playing in the NBA? Occasionally you’ll discover if you had gone to the Waffle House, you’d be eating with Pete Townshend of the Who, but you went to iHop found they forgot your extra bacon order? How would such an encounter altered your life? Or you decided to avoid the shortcut to work one morning and discovered after taking the long way that there was a massive multi-car wreck that you could have been in. Sliding Doors was an massive hit as it explores how the slightest of incidents can lead to major changes in a life.

Helen Quilley (Iron Man‘s Gwyneth Paltrow) arrives at the office just in time to get fired for what she didn’t think was that serious of an action. She’s shown the door. As she heads home, she just barely misses getting on the subway (or Tube as they call it in London). But then the narrative rewinds and in an alternate reality, Custom Garage Doors for the sliding doors. Very quickly we see how this insignificant moment leads to two extremely different futures. The version of Helen on the subway finds herself sitting next to James (Four Weddings and a Funeral‘s John Hannah). The two strike up a conversation. But she gets off at her stop and heads up to her apartment to give her boyfriend Gerry (The Secret Garden‘s John Lynch) the news of her sudden unemployment. But this goes bad when she finds Gerry in bed with what was supposed to be his ex-girlfriend Lydia (Waterworld‘s Jeanne Tripplehorn). Helen leaves to reboot her career, hook up with James and get a new hairdo. In the other reality, Helen ends up having to go back to street level and gets mugged. Since she is delayed by getting medical care, Helen arrives at her apartment long after Lydia has split. She has no idea that Gerry is two timing her. She takes a job at a restaurant in order to support Gerry in his pursuit of finishing his novel. Of course he’s mostly pursing his fling with Lydia. Helen doesn’t get a new hairdo. As we watch both futures develop, the question arises as to which reality will get the happy ending.

Sliding Door comes from that time when people thought Gwyneth Paltrow might be English having starred in Emma and winning an Oscar for Shakespeare In Love. The film did make an extraordinary date flick back in 1998. You had something to talk about with your companion after the movie was over. This was perfect for anyone who had a great night out with the other hot English title Four Weddings and a Funeral (also on Blu-ray as part of Shout Select). Sliding Doors plays with alternate realities without getting into a deep metaphysical drone discussion. The characters have no idea that they’re in two tracts of reality. There’s a charm to the tale even with serious moments. This remains a fine example of a ’90s date flick. Although now you can buy Sliding Doors: Collector’s Edition so you can watch the film at home and not deal with the subway.

The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic. The transfer is rather bright so it’s not the dreary London that ends up in so many films. The audio is 5.1 DTS-HD MA and 2.0 DTS-HD MA Stereo. Choose your mix to your home entertainment speaker system. You get the full subway train station effect with the 5.1 mix. The movie is subtitled.

Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Peter Howitt explains going from struggling actor to a writer-director of a hot property. Peter was impressed by Paltrow’s accent. He lets us know how the movie influenced the music of Eminem.

The Sliding Doors Moments (74 minutes) looks back at the making the film. Along with home movie footage, there’s brand new interviews with Peter Howitt, Stars Gwyneth Paltrow and John Hannah. Howitt relates how one traumatic moment near a Tube station gave him the big idea for the script. He did a lot of videotaping since the actor (In the Name of the Father) didn’t think he’d ever get to direct again. He explains how he set up the script so people could know what reality was being shot.

A Stroll Through Sliding Doors London With Peter Howitt (12:25) has the director take us on a tour. You can still catch or not catch the subway at the station.

Trailer (1:56) includes other subway stations. They really used Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves of London” as part of the music.

TV Spots (1:48) includes Trains, Unique, Sparks and Home Video. The home video appears to be for the PAL VHS tape.

Shout! Factory presents Sliding Doors: Collector’s Edition. Directed by: Peter Howitt. Screenplay by: Peter Howitt. Starring: Gwyneth Paltrow, John Hannah, John Lynch & Jeanne Tripplehorn. Rated: PG-13 Rated. Running Time: 99 minutes. Released: January 21, 2020

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