I really enjoyed Sliding Doors, a ten year old movie starring Gwyneth Paltrow and John Hannah. The premise is fascinating: that so much in life depends on mere chance. In the story, everything hinges on whether Paltrow’s character catches a Tube train, or is seconds too late to prevent the train doors sliding shut in her face.
Sliding Doors is a romantic comedy, with a sharp script (the writer and director was Peter Howit, whom I remember as Joey Boswell in the Scouse comedy ‘Bread’) and winning performances from Paltrow and the other cast members as two divergent stories are played out in highly watchable fashion. But I found it not just good entertainment, but also rather thought-provoking.
It’s the premise that fascinates me. Years ago, I saw an Alan Ayckbourn play (can’t recall the name without checking) which featured a series of variations on a basic story-line. The reviews of Sliding Doors that I’ve seen refer to a Polish film called Blind Chance which had a similar idea, and even a Lord Dunsany play from the 1920s on essentially the same ‘road not taken’
But what about crime fiction? It seems to me that the concept would adapt very effectively to our genre. Surely it’s already been done. But I can’t think of a single example – is anyone reading this blog able to come up with any?