Parents' Guide to

Sliding Doors

By Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

'90s fantasy-romance has mature themes, lots of profanity.

Movie PG-13 1998 99 minutes
Sliding Doors Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 13+

Choice at a crossroads, unconventional but pulls it off

There is something very 90s about this film that gives it a time-capsule type of effect. The gimmick is a good one and the film carries it through very well. Hannah does a fantastic job as the Scottish answer to Hugh Grant, and that seems more realistic. Patriarchy is front and center in this puzzle film and is portrayed well by Lynch and Tripplehorn. An unconventional film disguised as a rom-com but really a complex character study of choice at a crossroads.
age 13+

What if?

Sliding Doors operates on a gimmick. A gimmick which I find entirely fascinating: one woman, one fateful occurrence, two alternate timelines (The Butterfly Effect). Yet, while some might question whether a film can successfully tell two engaging, alternative story lines at the same time, director/writer Peter Howitt manages quite well. The film nimbly moves back and forth between the two timelines, showing how both diverge and intercede at various points throughout the course of the protagonist's tale. Gwenyth Paltrow certainly had one hell of a year in 1998. Along with this film she also had two other successful films released: A Perfect Murder and Shakespeare in Love (The latter film earning her the Oscar for Best Actress). However, though she hit gold with Shakespeare, Paltrow's performance here is not quite as strong. She's still charming as ever, and her comic skills are sharp as always, but every so often her portrayal rings slightly false and inorganic. Maybe it's the accent, but she also sported an English dialect in Shakespeare in Love (Also, Emma), so it's strange that it should come off forced here. Regardless, her Helen is still a delight to watch, and you can't help but root for her happiness. The real stand-out among the cast, however, is John Hannah (The Mummy [1999]), whose James is refreshingly sweet with his unapologetic joy for life and love, as well as perfectly timed one-liners. So, Sliding Doors. Should you watch it? I think so. It's funny, sweet, and despite what the CSM review suggests, genuinely clever. And who knows, maybe the course of your life could change upon a viewing?

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (2 ):
Kids say (3 ):

The parallel "what if" construction of this fantasy at first seems interesting and full of potential, but 20 minutes in, you have to wonder about the benefit of the increasingly clunky conceit. As the movie goes on, it turns out that whether Helen learns her useless boyfriend is having an affair sooner or later makes absolutely no difference to the outcome or the artfulness of the movie. In fact, the strategy at first suggests how different life can be if a different path is taken, but that notion is dashed by an ending that delivers two results that are essentially the same. Paltrow is likable, but her English accent is labored and, given the details of the script, utterly unnecessary.

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