Nights in Rodanthe
Review by Jack Foley
RICHARD Gere and Diane Lane reunite for the third time in Nights in Rodanthe, a tear-jerker let down by the way it ruthlessly manipulates your emotions.
The two leads, whose previous credits are The Cotton Club and Unfaithful, work hard to keep the film watchable but the story – based on a novel by Nicholas Sparks (of The Notebook and Message In A Bottle fame) – struggles to overcome either the contrived nature of the tragedy that unfolds or the heavy-handed direction of debutant George C Wolfe.
Adrienne (Lane) is a mother of two still struggling to come to terms from her husband’s betrayal. Upon learning that he wants a second chance, she welcomes the chance to ponder the situation at the seaside home of an old friend, who has asked her to look after the place while she has her own weekend away.
Enter the inn’s solitary guest, Paul (Richard Gere), a surgeon battling his own demons (a failed operation and estrangement from his son) who has come to Rodanthe to fulfil a difficult obligation.
Over the course of four days, Adrienne and Paul begin to develop feelings for each other and come to realise that their time together has afforded them the unlikely opportunity of a fresh start.
Ironically, Wolfe has made a name for himself in the theatre, where his work has landed him two Tony Awards, and it’s little surprise that his film works best when focusing on the characters and merely allowing them to inter-act.
As such, several of the scenes between Gere and Lane ring true, as does a poignant moment involving Scott Glenn’s bereaved husband.
But once the contrivances start to pile up (a hurricane, a trip away to Ecuador) the film begins to unravel and becomes less and less satisfying. Come the sentimental finale, which seems to go on and on (and on), audiences may well feel they’ve had the tears rung out of them, rather than offering them up for free.
To her credit, Lane, especially, manages to emerge with her dignity intact, delivering another credible performance as a middle-aged woman at a crossroads in her life. But, as is so often the case with her films, she deserves much better material.
Nights in Rodanthe had all the ingredients to become a classic weepie (and it will make people cry), but – sadly – those tears might not necessarily flow for the right reasons.
Running time: 98mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: February 9, 2009