Paul Carpenter (Patrick Gibson) isn’t living his best life, struggling to pay rent and find a solid job. But thanks to good timing and many coincidences, Paul’s luck is about to change, and he will soon find that a strange new opportunity awaits. Instead of applying for a job at a local cafe, Paul mistakenly finds himself at a different interview for a role as an intern. Paul speaks confidently and honestly, which soon lands him on the job at J.W. Wells & Co, a mysterious and strange firm in London.
As Paul begins his new role, he has no idea what to do or what his workplace actually does. Soon he finds himself part of several strange and unexplainable occurrences around him. Thankfully he’s not the only newbie on his first day, and he discovers a woman named Sophie (Sophie Wilde) is also having a similar experience. The company CEO Humphrey Wells (Christoph Waltz), the second manager Dennis (Sam Neill) and key staff members Countess Judy (Miranda Otto), Casimir (Chris Pang) and Nienke (Rachel House) are also quite mysterious. Now, both Paul and Sophie must work together and seek the truth about what this company and its staff are all about.
The Portable Door is best described as a fantasy film with a fun touch of mystery. The opening scenes are a beautiful setup, and various unexplained mysteries are introduced, which I instantly invested in. I had fun with the quirky moments, such as watching Paul fall into a job interview thanks to good luck and perfect timing.
Performance-wise, I loved the work delivered by Patrick Gibson as Paul. Paul is likeable; you can’t help but support him, hoping he finds the truth about his new workplace and learns more about himself along the way. Sam Niell in a supporting role is also a major highlight here. Seeing the actor give an energetic, cheeky, sly, and cryptic performance was a sight to see. I’m always a huge fan of actor Christoph Waltz, but in his role as Humphrey Wells, he was underutilised here, and I couldn’t help feeling disappointed by his performance by the end of the film.
The visuals are great, and I am pleased to see many good ideas come to life on the big screen. The fantasy and magical aspects also carried lots of fun throughout. Pacing; however, is a mixed bag. The film begins with excitement and joy but sadly fizzles to a slow, uninteresting drag in the second act. While some fun reveals are made leading to the third act, I can’t deny that The Portable Door felt rushed with many plot details that were either vague or unexplained. Audiences who journeyed through this film are left feeling deeply confused with a few unanswered questions as the credits roll.
Overall, those who love a good fantasy tale packed with fun visuals, creative ideas, and a vague plot outline will be the best to seek this film out. Leading performances from actors Patrick Gibson and Sam Neill are major standouts, and both bring characters to life who are energetic, fun, and likeable. However, as a plot, the film begins with something magical and fun but soon fizzles into something that needs to be slower and more transparent. Its unsatisfying closure feels rushed and unclear with key plot details. Sure, there’s some great magic and mystery to see, but sadly I couldn’t help but feel a little let down by the end. Perhaps this may have been a better TV series where details and characters could have been better explained to viewers. The Portable Door (2023) is Available on Stan from April 7th.