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Sliding Doors Essay

1789 words - 8 pages

Each of the four central characters, Helen, James, Gerry, and Lydia, can be recognized by individual and distinct traits that differentiate them from each other. The protagonist, Helen, is a hardworking woman with relatively low self-confidence who is often skeptical of people and good news that comes into her life. After losing her job, Helen works many part-time jobs in order to make ends meet and, in a parallel time line, starts up her own PR company. James is a nice, successful man who tries very hard to cheer up Helen and also has his own company. However, James isn’t entirely honest with Helen, because he hides the fact that he is married to Claudia. Gerry, in contrast to James, can be ...view middle of the document...

By this time, the audience knows that Gerry is torn between Helen and Lydia and has deduced that he is a coward because he cannot stand to face the consequences of his actions (Helen’s fury and inevitable rejection of him). Therefore, the audience has become aligned with Gerry by understanding the motivation for his actions, but cannot agree with them and so cannot have allegiance with him.
Howitt manipulates the mise-en-scene here in order to reinforce Gerry’s torn feelings and the bleakness of the situation. This scene has low-key lighting with only a key light on Gerry’s face and just enough backlighting to illuminate Helen’s figure lying innocently in the background. Helen’s form can be seen in the reflection and is split by a line that runs the length of the mirror. The line causes two images of Helen to appear, one lying slightly on top of the other. These two images represent the two Helen’s that appear in the film: the one that made the train and the one that did not. The whole right side of Gerry’s body is ensconced in darkness, reflecting his dreary situation and state of mind, while Helen’s figure is bordered above by a white wall and appears illuminated, representing her innocence in this situation. Lastly, Howitt’s clothing choice for Gerry and Helen serves to increase the contrast between the two characters. Gerry’s black sweater blends into the background and is a reminder of his indiscretions; whereas, Helen’s vibrant red top is striking against the white wall and bed and is representative of her strength.
While Lydia is extremely conniving and, throughout the film, has a sort of obsession with Helen and breaking her and Gerry up, the audience is given a glimpse at the more human side of her during the scene when she and Gerry argue in the hotel room in Dorset. Lydia pours her heart out to Gerry and professes her love, but she also expresses her unwillingness to wait for him any longer. Her long, protracted metaphor of a passenger waiting on her train, the “Gerry-express”, reveals that she truly does care about Gerry and that she too has something to lose in this situation. This scene helps the audience to understand Lydia’s motivations for her deceptions and her nasty behavior towards Helen earlier in the film. However, her continued duplicity before and after this scene and the fact that we are already allied with Helen makes it impossible for us to form an allegiance with someone who is, essentially, Helen’s enemy.
The hotel in Dorset is the only time when we see Lydia being completely honest. For the rest of the film she is either scheming to break up Gerry and Helen, or taking part in Gerry’s duplicitous affair. Her moment of honesty with Gerry is pure and, as such, she is wearing a white top and is backlit by white curtains and sunlight. Gerry, meanwhile, is once again wearing a black shirt. The darkness of the lies that surround Gerry contrasts with Lydia’s moment of pure honesty. Lydia gets wildly angry with Gerry...

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