A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
“Sliding Doors” uses parallel time-lines to explore the different paths that a woman's life might take after she does, and doesn't, find her lover in bed with another woman. I submit that there is a simple test to determine whether this plot can work: Is either time-line interesting in itself? If not, then no amount of shifting back and forth between them can help. And I fear they are not.
The movie stars Gwyneth Paltrow as Helen, a London publicity executive who is fired for no good reason, and stalks out of her office in midmorning to take the underground train back home. In one scenario, she catches the train. In the other, she misses it because she's delayed, and the doors slide shut in her face. To save confusion, we will call these Scenarios A and B.
In A, Helen arrives home unexpectedly and finds her lover, Gerry (John Lynch), in the sack with his mistress, Lydia (Jeanne Tripplehorn). She confronts them, walks out, goes to a bar and runs into James (John Hannah). James recognizes her because earlier he chatted her up on the train. Over the next few days, Helen A is comforted by her best friend, gets her long hair cut and dyed blond, and begins to fall in love with James.
In Scenario B, Helen misses the train, and by the time she arrives home Lydia is already off the scene. But she begins to suspect things when she realizes two brandy glasses were on the dresser. Eventually Helen B finds out about Lydia, who is the kind of woman who gets sadistic satisfaction out of popping up unexpectedly and threatening to blow Gerry's cover.