Old Lady Movie Night: ‘Sliding Doors’

The first time I rented Sliding Doors, I was desperate for a movie that made me feel grown up. I wanted — for the two hours I was babysitting at a neighbor’s a few blocks away —to pretend I was hanging out in my house. (Because, as an insightful teenager, I inherently knew that my favourite Saturday night activity would be staying in.) I wanted to feel independent. I wanted a short, blonde haircut that would no way work on me in real life.

I was basically Jenna in 13 Going on 30. I wanted to be an adult.

So did watching Sliding Doors make me feel grown-up? No, it made me terrified. It made being a grown-up seem less like the chill nights my neighbors spent out sans children and more exactly what growing up is actually like. Messy, and hard, and not knowing whether or not Gwyneth Paltrow is British. (She isn’t. Just for the record, she is not.)

What I’m saying is that I learned a lot. And I’m going to tell you all about what I learned here.

Gwyneth Paltrow is not British

It is important that we understand this point because for many years I thought she was, especially after watching Sliding Doors shortly after the movie, Emma. So: Girlfriend is good at a British accent, but she is not British. She is American. Her accent is American. At this point I’m telling myself this more than I am telling you, but I have to start somewhere.

Do not try to achieve Gwyneth Paltrow’s Sliding Doors hair unless you know how to style Gwyneth Paltrow’s Sliding Doors hair

. . . And other things I wish I knew in high school, thinking my wavy monstrosity could handle itself in the mornings. It could not. Things happened. Rain happened. Con-Air straighteners happened. Ironing happened. Boxed dye happened. And all of it was about 46-times worse than you’re envisioning now.

Somewhere, there is another you, living a less-great life

This is what I had to take away from the movie because what’s my other choice? That I’m living the bad life? Or that the person living the bad life is eventually going to take over my life when I . . . no. I won’t say it. (Because I AM GOING TO LIVE FOREVER and I accept no other fate.) And I don’t even know if that’s necessarily true. Especially because dark-haired Gwyneth ends up living the same life blonde-haired Gwyneth was living.

OK so this is the lesson: it can also be worse (dark-haired Gwyneth). And whenever you think about what “worse” looks like, imagine all that bad stuff happening to her because it is happening to your Other You. Only in this scenario, you live forever.

Actually no: I hate this — Sliding Doors is terrifying for this reason

Because what are our options? That there are a MILLION different realities/timelines we could be embarking on? NO. I can’t. I refuse. Even if that’s what’s scientifically accurate, I can’t wrap my head around it, so I choose not to participate. In my reality, we are all living our best lives. And sure, maybe we could’ve missed the subway, but that’s just part of our best lives because maybe somebody on the subway was really sick with the stomach flu, and you just avoided getting thrown up on. I need to believe this in order to stay sane.

This movie (like adulthood!) will make you feel the opposite of comfort

Why? Because it features, in no particular order: getting fired, getting cheated on, getting lied to, being manipulated, trying to open a new business, getting a risky haircut, delivering sandwiches, having a weird almost-relationship with a handsome older-ish man, breaking up with the guy who was cheating on you, getting hit by a bus, starting all over again, essentially.

Like, no. You guys want a lesson? Here’s your lesson. This movie is a THRILLER. This movie is “ADULTHOOD: when it all happens to you in a matter of WEEKS.” And I’m 99.9% sure watching It Follows is more comforting.

Having a crush on John Hannah is a very reasonable thing

And I really would’ve liked someone to have said that to me when I was 13 and thought, “HE IS SO UNCONVENTIONALLY HANDSOME, SO HOW DO I HANDLE THIS?” The answer? Embrace it. But alas, no Internet existed for me to find out this information. So what I say to you now is this: do you have a crush on a person in a movie and/or on TV? And they are NOT Leonardo DiCaprio levels of popularity? That is FINE and you run with it, and that is exactly what Tumblr is for so there.

Everybody deserves a makeover montage

And this isn’t me telling you to change how you look (YOU LOOK AMAZING and if anyone tells you otherwise, you exit the conversation immediately). This is me saying that in moments of doubt and/or needing to self-empower, channel your short-haired Gwyneth and/or Abbi and Ilana and say, “Let’s go shopping!” Why? Because you’re a grown-ass woman in charge of your own life, and also because movies have taught us that we need to change something to start anew.

Personally, I like to change my shoes. Because it’s free, and because you couldn’t pay me to try and achieve Gwyneth’s nineties hair again.