Nights in Rodanthe
George C. Wolfe
- Diane Lane as Adrienne Willis
- Richard Gere as Dr Paul Flanner
- James Franco as Mark Flanner
- Christopher Meloni as Jack Willis
- Scott Glenn as Robert Torrelson
- Viola Davis as Jean
A predictable and schmaltzy romantic drama, Nights in Rodanthe is made at least watchable and bearable by the presence of Diane Lane and Richard Gere, who bring a much-needed heart to an utterly contrived and unoriginal movie.
Adrienne Willis is a mother of two trying to keep it together after her husband Jack left for another woman. The trouble is now he wants her back and Adrienne is caught in a conundrum of whether to forgive him for his affair or continue as she is. Her strained relationship with her teenage daughter, who always takes her father’s side does little to help matters. So while her kids are staying with their father for the weekend, she decides to go to her best friend Jean’s inn in Rodanthe, North Carolina to tend to the rustic place on the beach. She hopes that while there she can come to a decision about her future while clearing her head. Also staying at the inn for the weekend is Dr Paul Flanner; who has his own troubles regarding a patient who died on the operating table, the family of the deceased patient suing him and his fractured relationship with his son, who is also a doctor. At the beginning of the weekend, the terse Paul is withdrawn and not at all talkative towards the conflicted Adrienne. But as Adrienne begins to coax him to talk, he also helps her reveal her pain. With a hurricane forecast and it best to stay inside, it is here where the two emotionally conflicted people really get to know each other. Over the course of the stormy weekend, Adrienne and Paul begin to open up to each other and help at least make some repair to their wounds and conflicts. Soon enough, a genuine romance sparks between them. But can their burgeoning romance blossom when they still have difficult decisions to make?
Firstly before I begin discussing my thoughts on Nights in Rodanthe, I’ll admit that I knew that it would probably be contrived and predictable. I mean it’s based on a novel by Nicholas Sparks, who always churns out romances that all bear striking resemblances to the last. But I at least expected there to be something else brought to the table with this movie. Sadly, it settled for the inevitable story line and cloying sentimentality that it seemed destined for. Unconfident direction from George C. Wolfe does nothing to distinguish this movie from the endless glut of schmaltzy romances that populate cinemas on a regular basis. He seems more interested in basking in the glowing sunlight and changes of weather that occur over the weekend, rather than the romance that develops between Paul and Adrienne. And while everything looks nice in Nights in Rodanthe, the scenery of the beach and crashing waves is pleasant enough, once again the ghost of every other cliché in the unoriginal romantic movie book is ever-present. Cue kisses in the wind, walks along the beach and cuddling by the fire. Clunky dialogue is another problem that makes some of it just feel ridiculous, especially the parts involving Adrienne and her daughter that come off as boring and melodramatic. The music score is lush but uninspired and occasionally lurches all over the show, and doesn’t manage to compliment some nice visuals. Saying all of this, Nights in Rodanthe does have some emotional impact, particularly as it nears the end and it’s inevitable that you’ll be reaching for the tissues.
Thank goodness we at least have Diane Lane and Richard Gere to enliven events and give Nights in Rodanthe at least a shred of believability and lovely chemistry. Diane Lane has always been an actress of depth and authenticity and that shines through here. Showcasing Adrienne’s worries that give way to a more relaxed persons, Lane just feels so radiant and lovely that it’s hard to take your eyes off her. She makes even the most clunky dialogue ring true and that is saying something with the material she’s given here. Richard Gere also does his best as the tortured Paul, haunted by emotions and pain. As previously mentioned, the two of them have a great rapport with each other and work very well together. Having worked together before in Unfaithful, you can just sense that they share something special when working with each other. Sadly, everyone else in this movie suffers from either being seen to little or just having roles that aren’t that interesting. Which is a shame when you have people like James Franco, Christopher Meloni, Scott Glenn and Viola Davis.
So despite the presence of Lane and Gere, boasting natural chemistry, Nights in Rodanthe falls very flat and ends up just another run of the mill romantic drama that you’ve seen been done countless times before.