Starring: Mads Mikkelsen, Jessica Schwarz, Nele Trebs, Heike Makatsch
David Andernach is a painter who’s relationship with his wife has become strained after he has admitted to a number of affairs. During a meeting with an attractive neighbour, his daughter has an accident and drowns in a small pool. Full of self-loathing, Andernach finally decides that he wants to end his life. Fate and friends intervene and he continues his life of self-pity only to be given a second chance. He comes across a door that leads to a world 5 years behind and is able to correct his fatal mistake, but Andernach soon discovers that there is a price and that price might mean going back on everything he has attempted to rebuild since his return.
Like many people, I was first aware of the talented Mads Mikkelsen from Casino Royale and his rich performance as the villain LeChiffre, easily one of the finest Bond villains there has been. He did play Tristram in the 2004 movie King Arthur but the nature of the ensemble cast didn’t allow Mikkelsen to properly shine and distinguish himself in a fairly minor part.
he is given plenty of material to illustrate what a good actor he is, from the heart-wrenching discovery of his dead daughter in the pool, to the final dénouement; a man whose future is uncertain. I like Mikkelsen’s approach to his work and I discovered through watching the brief interview within the disc’s extras, that he learnt the script in German to help the production.
Jessica Schwarz plays Andernach’s wife mainly in the secondary world and is attractive and vibrant enough to make viewers question why Andernach would cheat on her in the first place, but this is indicative of how the character interaction mimics real life relationships. The screenplay contains vividly real characters in an implausible premise. Duality plays an important part in what could be termed as an adult parable. The story is didactic without being overbearing or condescending to the audience.
Nele Trebs, who plays their daughter Nele, helps to ramp up the tension as we discover that she can tell that her Daddy is not her Daddy. Confusing? It makes sense in the film. Her performance is solid and, as said, contributes much to the suspense in the movie.
Heike Makatsch, who you might remember as Dr Lisa Addison in the first Resident Evil movie, plays Andernach’s lover Gia. Like the role of Addison , Gia might not be a big role in terms of screen time but the role is very important. Not only does her character inadvertently precipitate events, she also helps stir things up later in the movie too.
The movie is based upon cult author Akif Pirincci’s book The Damalstür (this title literally means “The Door to Back When”). Naturally, some changes were made as is often the case when adapting a book to screen. Pirincci has been likened to Stephen King. I can’t comment on this as I have not read the author’s work but the idea of a literal doorway to another world is nothing new. King used it most notably in the Second Dark Tower book; The Drawing of the Three where the hero, Roland, discovers three doors on a beach, each leading to another parallel world. The setting of the story, in a suburb, is also similar to a great many King horror novels. The concept of travelling to another place using a door is also very Narnian but that’s as supernatural as the movie gets.
The majority of the movie’s theme and subtext is about how one lives their lives, and particularly causality. It’s interesting that Nebe, at the beginning is out to collect butterflies. The butterfly motif is repeated towards the end as if symbolising the effect killing a butterfly could have on reality. The metaphor is a little heavy handed and not quite accurate, as in Chaos Theory the Butterfly Effect is all about a small change occurring in one place could have a great effect elsewhere. However, this approach to storytelling appears evident in The Door and provokes thoughts and ideas on a number of levels. I can only speculate that this was intentional. The movie is not overtly philosophical so that the viewer is bogged down by intellectual exchanges but like good tales, we can recognise the lessons within. An example being that Andernach had neglected his wife and through the original 5 years following their daughter’s death he had learned to appreciate and love his wife. Returning, Andernach has a better view of her and has become a more mature man because of it. The beauty of the tale is, that it doesn’t go smoothly; from the early “That’s not my Dad” exclamation, to the later events that I won’t spoil.
Bella Harf’s camerawork is amazing and at times makes us complicit in the events transpiring. The locations used help bring the story to life and add atmosphere.
For a slow burner, the pace is just about right. I found it easy to suspend disbelief because of the very nature of the movie and the story that it tells: For example, what happens to his parallel self was all a bit silly but adds to the scant humour in the film and ultimately fits in with the overall “bigger picture” revealed much later on.
Given that the movie was made in 2009, it’s odd that it’s taken so long for the movie to be released in the UK . It’s a unique movie and I hope that it doesn’t get lost among the lesser release in the genre it shares. It deserves an audience as I feel there’s a lot to like about it.
8 out of 10 (Wayfarer)