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Nights in Rodanthe

Movie title: Nights in Rodanthe (2008)
Grade: D- (1 star)
Rated: PG-13
Director: George C. Wolfe
Producers: Denise Di Novi, Doug Claybourne, Alison Greenspan, (Exec.) Dana Goldberg, (Exec.) Bruce Berman
Starring: Richard Gere “Dr. Paul Flanner,” Diane Lane “Adrienne,” Scott Glenn “Robert Torrelson,” Christopher Meloni “Jack,” Viola David “Jean,” James Franco "Mark Flanner")
Genre: Romance/Drama
Summation: A woman in a troubled marriage meets a man while looking after an Inn for a friend and a romance begins.
Spoilers ahead: No
In a word: Sappy

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There are those times when a critic must actually hunt for positive things to say about the subject of a review. It happens more often than you might think. I honestly didn’t expect Nights in Rodanthe, starring Richard Gere (Paul) and Diane Lane (Adrienne), to fall into that category.

I’m sorry to have to report that there was but one scene in the whole substandard film with any heart-tugging feel at all. Oh, there are plenty (and long) shots of tears being shed, but next to no legitimate emotion generated. Everything is sappy and overdone from start to finish. The acting is grossly apparent each passing minute.

When the dialogue is good, you don’t feel anything. When it isn’t bad, you don’t feel anything. But when it is bad, it is bad because it seems canned. This makes it even more apparent to the viewer that what is being watched are mere acting jobs rather than the inward adoption of characters played. The timing is always off. No build-up, no effective emotional hooking. The mood is always wrong and it never manages to get right.

The plot is contrived. A doctor (Paul) is at odds with another doctor, his son (James Franco “Mark Flanner”). They’ve been growing apart. A woman dies on dad’s operating table, but the doctor is given an opportunity to make amends with the grieving husband of the woman who died who blames him for her death.

Doctors have people die on them all the time. I always thought that when that happens, you apologize, extend condolences, and move on. I wouldn't guess you make a trip of several hundred miles to talk to someone about it (even if they are threatening to sue you) and then get there and have little to say. And certainly, you don’t get broken up over what is not even “your” loss and start crying in the widower’s living room. But maybe that’s just me.

Meanwhile, a woman’s (Adrienne’s) cheating husband (Christopher Meloni “Jack Willis”) wants to come back home. Her kids want dad back too. But she doesn’t want him back. Then she meets good-looking and well-to-do Paul Flanner, and things heat up from there. So contrived…all of it.

The execution of the plot was bloated and tiring. Everything is stilted and you never grow attached to anyone. If you think I’m being too harsh, consider a scene where Adrienne gets off the phone with her estranged husband. She’s angry because he’s pushing to get back together and she’s not ready. So she hangs up the phone and puts on a record. Out of frustration, she “jams out,” nodding back and forth to the tune in a most cheesy way before beginning to toss expired can goods in the trash as a way to relieve stress. Paul joins in.

We know what the intent of the scene was. It’s supposed to make the viewer relate to being stressed out and needing to vent, but it doesn’t have that affect and it leaves the viewer with only the realization that no one would act that way. But worst of all was the clich├ęd and rather predictable ending. You’ll be saying “Puh-lease” before you know it.

Many other miss-the-boat scenes follow suit, like Adrienne breaking down and laughing at the sight of horses on a beach and prolonged camera honing in on a smiling and rejuvenated Adrienne. Even visible boxes of tissue aren’t left out of crying scenes. Hearing about it, you’d think it’s a “chick flick,” but even an emotionally unstable, post-menopausal, valium-addicted divorcee still might not get into it.

Other small-but-noticeable mistakes are to be found, some of them hard to ignore, like a major hurricane supposedly hitting the small island of Rodanthe, a “big” hurricane, no less. But it couldn’t have been too big because the house Paul and Adrienne then occupied was right on the beach and it was fine afterwards. By the next morning, the hurricane is gone and the sun is out and the ground outside amazingly dry! Paul’s car, left out in the storm, is spotless. No rain water residue, no dirt, no fallen branches on the hood…nothing! It looked like it had just been waxed!

This was a big step backwards for both Gere and Lane for sure. There is an uncomfortable fact that ought to be recalled from time to time by certain directors, and that is that having big-name actors does not necessarily guarantee a big-name movie. But this was director Wolfe’s first attempt at a movie. Maybe he’ll get it right on the next go-round.

I’m hoping the best-selling novel from whence this film comes (Nights in Rodanthe, by Timothy Sparks) was a good one because there’s really not much positive to say about this sappy bor of a movie. I thought the hurricane affects were good during the storm. The anticipation of a storm is always exciting to me, more exciting than the rest of the flick. Sorry, that’s the best thing I can say about it!

(JH)

Comments

  1. I must say when I was watching this movie I was waiting for the big bang or sex scene between the two actors. As mentioned the hurricane came and went and it didnt look like much damage was done but I will admit the ending came close to my heart and yea even being a cold hearted woman...it did make me cry. Still somewhat disappointed that I paid $4.00 for this but I guess I will learn next time. Dont always depend on the movie being good just because the actors are.

    ReplyDelete
  2. It deserved an F, really. But ok, I'll go with you on the crying part. The daughter helping the mother did hit home briefly, but that's it.

    (JH)

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