Jeff Bridges is so good in The Door in the Floor that it's hard to say just how good he is. He's playing a beloved children's writer and illustrator who, because of a family tragedy, has gone to seed, and the swirl of emotions that runs through the performance is dizzying. Prancing about his Long Island estate in an artist's robe and nothing else, Ted Cole is both proud as a peacock and full of shame. His wife, Marion (Kim Basinger), has never recovered from the deaths of their teenage sons in a car accident; she moves through the house like a ghost. And at first we think Ted's insensitive to her grief, especially when he removes his robe for local arts matrons. But Ted is both insensitive and hypersensitive, manipulative and out of control, charismatic and repellant. And Bridges nails it all to the wall, even though he seems to have flung it at the wall to see what would stick. Overall, it's just a beautifully controlled shaggy-dog performance, one worthy of Oscar consideration.
The movie itself might be worthy of Oscar consideration if it didn't slide off the tracks two-thirds of the way through, losing dramatic coherence by inserting farcical episodes. Before that, it's like Summer of '42 meets Ordinary People, a coming-of-age story haunted by death. Jon Foster plays Eddie, an Exeter student who gets a summer job running errands for Ted but who winds up in bed with Marion. Their fling is just this side of unbelievable, but the incestuous vibe ' he looks like one of her deceased sons ' gives the movie a streak of madness. Its title taken from one of Ted's gothic children's stories, The Door in the Floor bravely embraces the unknown, where lost parents go in search of lost children, fully expecting not to find them.