Movies I’m Thankful For:  Sliding Doors (1998)

Sliding Doors (1998) poster

All this time I’ve been taking the wrong message from Sliding Doors.

The movie depicts the parallel paths of Helen (Gwyneth Paltrow) on the day she’s fired from her PR job—in one universe, she catches the train on her way home and finds her boyfriend Gerry (John Lynch) in bed with another woman.  In the other, she misses the train by seconds and remains unaware of his infidelity.

Quite helpfully, the first thing catch-the-train Helen does is get a pixie haircut so that we can easily tell which universe she’s in as the film bounces back and forth.

Pixie Helen meets sexy stranger James (John Hannah) on the train, opens her own PR firm, spends her time laughing and basically forgets that Gerry exists. 

Long-haired Helen eventually finds out about Gerry’s infidelity, but since she never got on the train, she’ll never meet James, the true love of her life.

Both universes end with Helen winding up in the hospital after life-threatening tragic accidents.

We leave Pixie Helen with James at her bedside.  Long-haired Helen kicks Gerry to the curb, walks into the elevator at the hospital and meets…James!

I always took away the heartening message that though the details may change, in the end you’ll always end up where you’re supposed to be.  Your destiny will find you even if you miss the train.

But that’s not what the movie is saying at all!  Because on my most recent viewing, I saw what I’d missed (or repressed!) before.  While James sits by Pixie Helen’s hospital bed, her eyes drift closed.  I thought she was just resting.  But in the background, the EKG quietly flatlines.

Pixie Helen dies!

How did I miss this?  What does this mean? 

The message has gone from, “everything will work out in the end” to “if you’re happy, death is imminent!”

I’m just not sure where to go from here.

Next thing you’ll be telling me there’s no Santa Clause.

Or that Ticketmaster cancelled the public sale of Taylor Swift tickets.

Helen dies in Sliding Doors (1998)

This is part of my Movies I’m Grateful For series, running daily through the month of November. 

Other films include: Splash | New Moon | The Lucky One | Thelma and Louise | Katy Perry:  Part of Me | Crazy Rich Asians | Under the Tuscan Sun | Terminator 2 | Moulin Rouge!How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days | Practical Magic | Schindler’s List | Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol | Stardust | The Man in the Moon | The Others | Little Women | Cruella |

15 thoughts on “Movies I’m Thankful For:  Sliding Doors (1998)

  1. Yup, she die! This came out months after Princess Diana died, and we in the UK were right up for this misterablist message. This film is surprisingly downbeat…I’m increasingly annoyed about your struggle to get Taylor Swift tickets. It just feels like corporate greed is strangling everything right now…

    • Yes, it is and I sort of missed that the first time around……but I still like it quite a lot. I actually love the scenes where Gerry is complaining to his friend about this mess of his own making and his friend just keeps laughing in his face.

      The TS debacle is still front page news daily over here!

      • It should be! Concert ticket pricing is obscene enough, but the deliberate gouging should be illegal. And if an artist of Swift’s stature can’t make a dent in this, why should anyone else try? This denies several generations the moments that shape their lives; to see and share a moment with their heroes and heroines. As always, the old profit and the young suffer; the revolution starts here!

  2. New York Times Music
    Breaking News: The Justice Department has opened an antitrust investigation into the owner of Ticketmaster, whose sale of Taylor Swift tickets descended into chaos this week, focused on whether Live Nation has abused its power over the live music industry.

    • Ha! From the same politicians who voted the approve the Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger in the first place. But now that their granddaughters aren’t getting Swift tix for Christmas, they’re suddenly all concerned!

      • That is a good point. Much as many of today’s woes can be blamed on aged, courupt politicians in the last five years, if we look back over the last twenty, much of the groundwork was laid by those who are criticising those who came after them. My point is that the younger Blair and Obama admins have much to answer for in terms of creating and protecting the deregulated sh*tshow we’re currently experiencing….

  3. Never saw this, but always quoted its premise whenever someone would talk about getting to a fork in the road in life and wondering which way to go, what if they went the other way, etc. Now that I’ve read your review, while I still like the concept of the movie I don’t want to see it. Of course, there is a Santa Claus. He just doesn’t visit Ticketmaster.

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