Sliding Doors

Director: Peter Howitt
Screenwriters: Peter Howitt

Institute History

  • 1998 Sundance Film Festival


What would happen if one moment your life took two completely different paths? This question is the starting point for this superb romantic drama. First-time feature filmmaker Peter Howitt wrote and directed this flawless stroll through the vagaries and perils of love and relationships. As hackneyed and familiar as this territory can be, Howitt has done an exquisite job in illuminating exhilarating storytelling with superlative intelligence and wit. When Helen, a career advertising executive, is summarily dismissed from her job, the fates determine her future and possibilities for happiness with the speed of the sliding doors of a subway train. Making it onto the train will lead her in one direction, while being left stranded on the platform will send her life in a completely different direction. The parallel narratives are a delightful device, and Gwyneth Paltrow, in the most outstanding performance of an already impressive career, dazzlingly displays how wonderfully and subtly she brings characters to life.

Sliding Doors is infused with ingenious twists and turns, sparkling and deliciously nasty truths, and the best acting that any cast has offered in quite a while. John Hannah (perhaps best remembered from Four Weddings and a Funeral, opening night of the 1994 Festival), Jeanne Tripplehorn, and John Lynch are simply splendid. This is manna from heaven for anyone who bemoans the demise of the smart and enlightened melodrama from classic film days and required viewing for anyone who has ever wondered what course a relationship might take but for the inexorable trajectory of destiny.

Peter Howitt, Director
Sliding Doors marks Peter Howitt’s directional debut, but he is well known as an actor of films, TV, and the stage. His film appearances include Some Mother’s Son and In the Name of the Father. On television Howitt has been in “Kiss and Tell,” “Killing Me Softly,” “Frontiers,” “Tears Before Bedtime,” “Royal Celebration,” “The Magician,” “Civvies,” “Coasting,” “Ball Trap on the Cote Sauvage,” “Bread,” and “Solo.” Theatre appearances include Party Time/Mountain Language, The Caretaker, The Dumb Waiter, Stiff Options, Tommy Boy, and The Fifteen Streets.

— Geoffrey Gilmore

Screening Details

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