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nights at rodanthe

Night in Rodanthe
George C. Wolfe
Cast: Diane Lane, Richard Gere, Christopher Meloni, Viola Davis, Becky Ann Baker, Scott Glenn, Linda Molloy, Pablo Schreiber

Richard Tara

October 13, 2008


Some critics have called this a soppy love story.  One, so called critic, in that cheap tabloid rag, The People, suggested that Richard Gere, given his great age, had no business playing this romantic role or wearing tight jeans!  This shows you how stupid some self-styled movie critics are.  Romance has nothing to do with age.  It was here before those cretins were born and will be here long after they are turned into cosmic dust.

That is not to say that the Nights in Rodanthe was an original.  The fable of star crossed lovers is as ancient as when humans first learned to write.  For some reason, the love stories with a tragic end are more enduring.  Perhaps too much happiness is anathema to our psyche. 

In 1996, Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert Redford starred in Up Close & Personal as two strangers from different worlds that fall passionately in love.  In 1999, Kevin Costner and Robin Wright Penn starred in Message in a Bottle, a similar story penned by one Nicholas Sparks. In that story two thirty/forty something strangers fall in love only to lose their new-found love near the end when everything seems to be going fine.  The current movie is also based on a story by Nicholas Sparks.  This time around, he has slightly changed the locale and the means of chance meeting of the two dysfunctional strangers. 

The movie is about a newly separated woman Adrienne Willis (Diane Lane) who is having problems adjusting to her new life.  Adrienne is experiencing extreme agony in dealing with her obnoxious teenage girl and her sickly needy boy.  To add insult to injury, her philandering husband Jack (Christopher Meloni) suddenly decides to come home and reclaim the family that he had abandoned for the sake of another woman.  Adrienne decides to take few days off to dwell on her problems and take care of her dearest friend’s guest house in Rodanthe which actually is a small village in North Carolina. 

The other member of this triangle is a Dr. Paul Flanner (Richard Gere.)  He is a surgeon who has lost his nerve and his family because of a botched operation on a woman’s face.  Rather far-fetched since we do not live in the never-never land, and do not know of any surgeon with that kind of a conscience. But, let’s leave that for now.  Dr. Flanner is in Rodanthe, as the only guest of the bed and breakfast, because he has been asked by the husband of the dead woman to visit him.  The good doctor is also planning to visit his estranged son who is doctoring to indigents somewhere in Latin America.  

Then there is the threat of a severe storm which is threatening to make landfall and hit the entire coast of North Carolina and maybe destroy the rickety old five story guest house.

So, between the stressful phone calls from her family at home and the inclement weather and the distraught husband of the dead woman and the fierce storm the lonely couple fall in everlasting love.  The movie is actually directed adequately this far.  The rest of the  story has to do with Doctor Flanner going to visit his son and writing passionate letters to his lover who is counting the days until he will come back home to be with her for the rest of their lives. 

But, fate will decree differently.

Someone once said, maybe it was this writer, that women are like wine.  Some age beautifully and get better and better and some become sour like vinegar.  Diane Ladd is an example of the first type.  Not only is she in excellent shape, but she has that hot sex appeal that some, very few indeed, women get with age.  She is warm and yet vulnerable.  Meryl Streep is at the other end of the spectrum.  Diane Ladd is really a wonderful actor.  She excels in the last third of the movie when tragedy strikes.  We felt her pain and anguish.  As for Richard Gere, he looks great and acts the part.  He has been in some silly movies in his life but his good looks and talent have carried him along so far.

The direction by director/actor/writer George Wolfe is rather pedestrian.  He does not seem able to add that certain pizzazz to make his work memorable.

The cinematography by Alfonso Beato, captured the spirit of the location, hot, desolate and at the very very end, the charge of the wild horses was captured fabulously. 

If you can stand the unhappy ending then watch it.  It has very good acting and wonderful cinematography, even though the story maybe old and predictable.


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