Sliding Doors

Sliding Doors

Sliding Doors is a 1998 film written and directed by former actor Peter Howitt. It starred Gwyneth Paltrow and John Hannah, and featured John Lynch, Jeanne Tripplehorn and Virginia McKenna. The original music score was composed by David Hirschfelder.


The film follows the life of Helen Quilley (Paltrow), who is fired from her public relations job. The film's plot splits into two parallel universes which run in tandem. In one universe, Helen manages to catch a London Underground train home on time, and in the other she misses it.

In the first scenario (the parallel universe), she gets home in time to catch her boyfriend Gerry (Lynch) red-handed with his ex-girlfriend Lydia (Tripplehorn); she promptly dumps him, and meets (and falls in love with) a new man James (Hannah). Helen met James on the underground, where he engages in discussion with her, including references to pop culture icons like the Beatles and Monty Python.

In the second scenario (reality), she misses the train and tries to catch a cab. While hailing a taxi, Helen falls victim to an attempted mugging. Helen hits her head in the scuffle and is taken to the hospital. She arrives home late, giving Lydia time to leave. Helen carries on oblivious in a miserable relationship with Gerry, working several part-time jobs to pay the bills. Meanwhile, Gerry tries to cover up his infidelity and deal with two women and Lydia interacts with Helen on several occasions. Helen discovers she's pregnant with Gerry's baby, but cannot find the time to tell him.

In the first scenario (parallel universe), Helen discovers she's pregnant with James' child and goes to see him at his office. She is stunned to learn from Jame's secretary that he has a wife. Upset, Helen disappears. James searches for her and finds her on a bridge, explaining he was married, is separated and soon to be divorced, and that his former wife is maintaining a cordial relationship with him for the sake of his ill mother.

In the second scenario (reality), Helen tells Gerry she has a job interview with the head of an international PR firm. Thinking Helen is out at the interview, Gerry goes to see Lydia, who is also pregnant with his child. While there, the doorbell rings and Lydia tells Gerry to answer it. Helen is there, and is outraged when Lydia tells her she can't do the interview because she's "deciding whether or not to keep [Helen's] boyfriend's baby."

In both timelines, she ends up in accidents, gets taken to the hospital and loses her baby. In the first scenario (in which she catches the train), she dies in the arms of her newfound love. In the second scenario, Helen recovers in hospital and tells Gerry to leave her alone for good. Then, while leaving the hospital (in present time), she runs into James on an elevator.

At this point the parallel universe is gone. James is seen leaving the hospital after visiting his mother, and Helen is leaving the hospital after ending her relationship with Gerry permanently. As Helen leaves the hospital she drops an earring in the elevator and it is picked up by James. This event mirrors the start of the film, where James picks up Helen's earring on the elevator shortly after Helen is fired from her PR job.

Before the elevator doors close, James tells Helen to cheer up, and repeats his line, "You know what the Monty Python boys say..." Helen (who, in the beginning of the film, didn't get the reference) turns to James and says, "Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition." She and James stare at one another as the elevator doors close, leaving the audience to speculate on the outcome of their relationship, but heavily indicating James and Helen end up in a relationship.

The Tamil film 12B released in 2000,directed by late director Jeeva, is loosely based on the same plot.


The scenes on the London Underground were filmed at Waterloo station on the Waterloo & City Line and at Fulham Broadway tube station on the District Line. The scenes by the river were filmed next to Hammersmith Bridge and in the Blue Anchor pub in Hammersmith. The late-night scene when Paltrow and Hannah are walking down the street chatting was filmed on Primrose Gardens (formerly Stanley Gardens) in Belsize Park.

Selected cast


  1. Aimee Mann - Amateur
  2. Elton John - Benny and the Jets
  3. Dido - Thank You
  4. Aqua - Turn Back Time
  5. Jamiroquai - Use the Force
  6. Abra Moore - Don't Feel Like Cryin'
  7. Peach Union - On My Own
  8. Olive - Miracle
  9. Dodgy - Good Enough
  10. Blair - Have Fun Go Mad
  11. Andre Barreau - Got A Thing About You
  12. Andre Barreau - Call Me A Fool

British singer Dido's song "Thank You" made its first appearance on the Sliding Doors soundtrack, although it only became a hit three years later. It was a commercial for this movie featuring "Thank You" as background music that inspired rapper Eminem to use Dido's voice for his song, "Stan".

See also

External links

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