Don't Dream, It's Over. Psychoanalysis, Sex, and Fear in Bruce Wood's "The Door." By J. Horwitz
For most, the prospect of dreaming is a formidable challenge. Even the word itself is ambiguous. For many, the act of dreaming, in all its literal and figurative translations, is a vague and fleeting promise fraught by the lingering horror of failure.
Worse yet, if one is impatient or careless with one's dreams - acting out of selfishness, or fear, rather than genuine self knowledge, - one runs the risk of turning a much loved dream into an inescapable nightmare; a veritable play of misdirection and heartache where one spends those final breaths of candlelight, bumping mercilessly in the dark, as that murky hand of realization squelches out that last ebbing glow of promise.
In "The Door," the latest offering by Writer/Director Bruce Wood, we are forced to confront the multiple fears that go hand-in-hand with dreaming: dreaming while we're asleep - a literal translation - and, of course, dreaming of accomplishment - a more figurative translation of modern day ambition that lends an element of ambiguity to the former.
The story of "The Door" is deeply psychological, and uses the inherent ambiguity of dreaming - in both senses of the word - to blur the lines of perception for the film's main characters: Ron, Charlene, and Jean. All the characters in "The Door" dream of transforming their lives (in more ways than one), but none of them fully trust themselves to do so.
In turn, the three friends develop an unspoken circle of trust where they respect and encourage one another in the daily pursuit of their life goals, and, while asleep, develop the preternatural ability to mentally manifest in a shared nocturne where all three engage in a common adventure, in one instance, all taking a trip to a tropical paradise. As friends, Ron, Charlene, and Jean are fairly close, but none seem to possess the raw drive to actually get what they want on their own. All three are in a place of need, and all three require additional support - even while they sleep.
Elsewhere in the city, a close friend of the group, Ori, a provocative, effete socialite, is more than willing to help his friends in need, and, in turn, develops some dreams of his own. Far from being in a position of need, Ori seems to have everything he could ever want: youth, beauty, wealth, and sex - Ori has it all, or so it would seem. As something of a "spiritual mentor" to the roving beauties of the city, Ori dreams of easing the pain of another close friend, the melancholy Kent Cole; an independently wealthy playboy who can't seem to make his friendships last. Upon first analysis, one would suspect that Ori's "true passion" is power, and while he may already have a great deal that he wants, the opportunity to touch many lives at once could prove to be a priceless jewel too rare to ever purchase - even for Ori.
Sipping cocktails and wearing kimonos in Ori's high-rise apartment, Ori tells Kent, that he should distance himself from his previous, failed relationships if he's ever to discover his "true nature. Only then," says Ori, "will you truly be happy." As to what Kent's "true nature" is, one can't quite say, but one gets the distinctive feeling that he and Ori share something "special" in common -- and it's not their kimonos. As a dreamer, Kent is clearly full of social ambition, but, unlike Ron, Charlene, and Jean, Kent doesn't dream while asleep, and is highly skeptical of those who do. Seeing this as a perfect opportunity to stir up some much needed conversation about love, desire, and even dreaming, Ori decides to introduce Kent to the circle of friends, and in doing so, seems to fulfill everyone's dream in one master stroke.
What follows is an intriguing play of wish fulfillment and manipulation in which promises are made, and then broken with damning consequences. Amid a backdrop growing curiosity and well-crafted eroticism, Ron, Charlene, and Jean are all handsomely rewarded through their new association with Kent, but, in turn, all end up paying a price for succumbing to their own desire.
For Ron, it's a huge sum of money to get his investing career off the ground. For Charlene it's a once-in-a-lifetime job interview with the Mayor. And, for Jean, it's true love with Kent Cole, himself. For a while everyone seems perfectly contended with their new lives, but the dream doesn't last long.
After a week of turning profit for Kent Cole's stock portfolio, Ron's trading account has suddenly been emptied. Similarly, when Charlene shows up to her meeting with the Mayor, the Mayor - who also happens to be a close friend of Ori - feigns ignorance of ever having scheduled the appointment, and has Charlene ejected from the office. And, for poor Jean, Kent seems to make promises he just can't keep. As things start getting progressively worse and worse for the three friends, one gets the distinctive feeling that they are, somehow, getting secretly better for the suspiciously absent Ori.
If it is in Kent's true nature to discover that people in need are best left manipulated than loved, then it seems to be one lesson that Kent can live without. As Kent tries to rapidly negotiate the crumbling pieces of his friend's lives around him, things for Ron, Charlene, and Jean get progressively worse; the most notable symptom being that all start to hallucinate: seeing things that aren't there.
Upon careful reflection, one remembers the numerous parties that Ori and Kent have hosted for the group, and starts to wonder if party drugs, or hallucinogenic narcotics, might be part of Ori's bag tricks, as well. While Ori seems to have it all, it's clear that Kent's trial-by-fire is of great importance to him, and it's that element of the story that lends the film its most delicious twist.
At several key junctures in the film, the viewer is led to believe that the model of "other" that Ori is trying to solidify for Kent is the difference between "gay" and "straight," and the extent to which any glaring, social inequity - be it wealth, ideology, or orientation - like that of Ori and the openly bi-sexual and gay boys with whom he associates, will ever be truly accepted by that of "mainstream" groups, like Ron, Charlene, and Jean. To the extent that Ori wants Kent to come to terms with his own true nature, Ori makes no apologies for setting his plan into motion, and has few qualms about making the search for Self the ultimate social currency.
Since Ori is not in a position of need, as are the other members of the group, Ori is at a much better vantage to raise the bar for Kent, and challenge him in ways that would be unthinkable to his other friends. If Ori is, in fact, dead set on having Kent achieve his goals of realization - using the circle of friends as a conduit - then it certainly gives Ori a plausible motive to mislead and dispose of the group as he pleases. As we are again reminded of the group's ability to manifest in one another's dreams, one gets the distinctive feeling that Ron, Charlene, and Jean might be actually be able to circumvent Kent's collapsing house of cards if they could only find the time to strategize a unified plan, but, wouldn't you know it, they're all so busy with their new "dream lives" it seems they barely have time sleep - which might be part of the plan.
Playing out the well traveled, Suspense-Film theme of "Revenge," one would have no trouble finding suitable material to suggest that Ori has deliberately moved Kent into a position of power amongst the group to exact some much needed retribution for their many years of supportive, but ultimately hollow friendship. While Ori is clearly a well-liked member of the group, his appearance is, more often than not, marked by a cool chill of social novelty, rather than earnest and loving attachment. Drawing strength from the film's ongoing themes of eroticism, homo-sexual experimentation, and manipulation, the idea of a film that makes the premise of "gay revenge" a central theme would not be wholly unjustified given today's war-hungry, social climate, however, the final relevance a spite-filled twist in the plot, like that of the citron in Ori's island cocktails, is ultimately left to taste, and rests at the discretion of the viewer.
"The Door" is an engaging spiritual, erotic thriller as mysterious and frantic as the life that courses through its veins. As a director, Bruce Wood makes brilliant work of a very difficult inter-genre film, and executes his vision with a master's brush. As a fantasy film that would be well suited to fans of shows like The X-Files, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Charmed "The Door" is a true gem of sci-fi, erotic adventure that will leave its viewers dreaming of more.
"The Door" - 92 min. 2006. Written and Directed by Bruce Wood. UNRATED (Suggested as R for some language and adult sexual themes.) "The Door" can be ordered on DVD through Dreamfast Cinema at www.dreamfast.com.