An expectedly weepy tearjerker, George C. Wolfe’s Nights in Rodanthe breaks no new ground but should please lonely hearts and fans of the star duo.
There’s a whole subgenre of romantic tearjerkers popularized (but not started) in the late 60’s/early 70’s with films like Love Story and Sweet November (itself remade in 2001) that have held true throughout the years, and yet I cannot recall a single one that has received widely positive reviews.
Cynics have despised the manipulative nature of these movies, and Nights in Rodanthe is no different, but genre fans should be satisfied – just make sure to bring a tissue or three (boxes).
Diane Lane stars as Adrienne Willis, divorced mother of two who is given an unexpected surprise when her ex-husband (Christopher Meloni) comes to pick up the kids: he wants to get back together.
Adrienne has other plans for the immediate future – she’s promised to play innkeeper in lieu of her friend, who’s taking a vacation. There’s only one guest at the North Carolina beachfront inn, Dr. Paul Flanner (Richard Gere), who has come to the small town to make amends.
A deceased patient’s husband (Scott Glenn) has written to him, looking for some kind of resolution, even though he has also filed a lawsuit against the doctor. Paul and Adrienne share some intimate moments, and while a violent storm kicks up they start to heal each other’s wounds.
Gere and Lane are good but especially good together; they share a warm, familiar chemistry, and the film is at its finest when they’re sharing the screen. This is their third film together, following The Cotton Club and Unfaithful. James Franco, playing Paul’s estranged son, has a touching scene with Lane towards the end.
In his first feature film, director Wolfe handles things capably; though the script breaks absolutely no new ground, it’s never as manipulative as I’m used to from these pictures. Cinematography is excellent throughout, with some gorgeous location work on North Carolina beaches.
One major quibble: an awful ‘Hollywood moment’ final scene that tries to go out with a bang instead of the quiet, introspective ending that the film really needs.