Paltrow dazzles in romantic comedy with a fun twist

Romantic comedies are usually nothing more than huge disappointments filled with overused clich?s and “Friends” stars. But sometimes Hollywood puts a stellar twist on the subject of romance and love.

Sliding Doors (Miramax) is a perfect example of what goes right when great acting, witty writing and a fresh plot are rolled into one – a can’t-miss movie that guarantees audiences will laugh out loud and truly have an enjoyable movie experience.

Helen (Gwyneth Paltrow, Great Expectations) just was fired from her job with a public relations firm in London. On her way home to tell her live-in boyfriend Gerry (John Lynch, In the Name of the Father), she misses her train. But what if Helen caught the train?

Sliding Doors plays with fate, chance and love by presenting the storyline both ways. The movie shows these two different tales brilliantly.

The acting and writing are virtually flawless. One might expect to be confused as the movie switches between two alternate lives. However, confusion is never a problem.

Paltrow, who is absolutely stunning, tackles a British accent reasonably well. Her performance clearly demonstrates she is a leading actress who can portray a wide character array.

John Hannah (Four Weddings and a Funeral) turns in a marvelous performance and delivers some of the movie’s funniest lines. Hannah and Paltrow develop on-screen chemistry that will have audiences clamoring for the two to end up together.

Lynch, a proven serious actor, is detestable as the sleazy boyfriend, but audiences will find it hard not to laugh at his antics. Jeanne Tripplehorn (Waterworld), who has had an undistinguished film career, is funny and cruel as Gerry’s mistress.

After seeing Sliding Doors, one might think that Peter Howitt is the writer and director of a number of quality movies – think again. This film is Howitt’s directorial and screenwriting debut, although he has acted in British and Irish movies.

Academy Award-winning director Sydney Pollack is also heavily involved with the picture. Instead of directing, Pollack produces Sliding Doors, which should be enough of an endorsement for anybody to see the film.

In attempting to answer the age-old question of “what if,” the film throws romance and comedy into the mix. With an extremely original premise, Sliding Doors is one of the freshest movies in recent years.

Sliding Doors opens Friday.4 hatchets

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