Film review: The Door

Serious misfire: Helen Mirren is out of place in the unintentionally hilarious The Door.
Serious misfire: Helen Mirren is out of place in the unintentionally hilarious The Door.

The Door (M) (97 min)

Directed by Istvan Szabo.

Starring Helen Mirren, Martina Gedeck.

Based on the Hungarian novel of the same name, The Door takes Helen Mirren to Budapest, and leaves her stranded in a film that is just bafflingly bad.

The plot follows an urbane youngish couple, who move into a stylish apartment, and then decide to employ the withdrawn older woman from over the road to do their laundry and perhaps cook them dinner. Only trouble is, Emerence, the woman,(Mirren) is some very damaged goods, with a personal trauma for every day of the week, and a string of pithy aphorisms where her conversation used to be.

She is intolerably rude and duplicitous towards the couple, and yet we are supposed to believe that these otherwise quite sane people would welcome her into their house at whatever hour she decides to show up, and eventually elevate her to the role of house hold saint, when they are obviously terrified of her bullying and obstreperousness.

Adding to the film's problems; Mirren is the only native English speaker in the film, but trying on an Hungarian accent. The rest of the cast, though obviously talented, are working in a second language. Pronunciation and emphasis are all over the shop, sometimes with unintentionally hilarious results. One story, allegedly tragic, that involved two deaths by lightning and a suicide, had me falling out of my seat with laughter.

There are moments in The Door that work, and I've heard that the book is very good, but the film just doesn't hang together. With too much expository dialogue, too many amateurish performances, and a very stagey and over-lit production, The Door is a serious misfire.

The Dominion Post