Sunday, October 12, 2008
Nights in Rodanthe **
Director: George C. Wolfe
Cast: Richard Gere, Diane Lane
Viola Davis, Christopher Meloni, James Franco, Scott Glenn
Apparently single, middle aged, obscenely beautiful people find hurricanes to be the ultimate aphrodisiac. Or so thinks Nicholas Sparks, whose books lead to sappy film adaptations that make people swoon over the fact that they're so utterly corny.
Lane plays Adrienne Willis, who is separated from her husband (Meloni) and must endure the wrath of he teenage daughter (Mae Whitman) who blames her for her unhappiness.
One weekend she offers to look after her best friend Jean's (Davis playing the sassy, token best friend) seaside inn (a beautiful, if unstable looking dream house), located in the title town, where she is told there will only be one guest (in what must one of the dumbest economic strategies ever, but all's well in the name of potential love...).
The lodger is Dr. Paul Flanner (Gere) who has come to Rodanthe to make peace about an issue that has left him emotionally stuck. After his stay there he plans to visit his son (Franco) who works as a doctor in an Ecuador jungle.
This leaves them with a weekend to live up to the passionate affair audiences buy their movie ticket for and with an imminent hurricane that will leave them trapped there alone, somehow they deliver this.
It's rare for a film to rely on two mature film stars to work this kind of magic and because of this the film seems braver than what it is. Gere and Lane, who aren't as popular as say Hanks and Ryan or Hepburn and Tracy, make you feel as if this, their third onscreen reunion, is some sort of event that can't be missed.
She works her sensual charm to new levels of MILF-ness (with the necessary crying scenes now and then to remind us she's a serious actress) and Gere who becomes more subtle by the decade brings a barely there warmth to Paul that makes him irresistible.
The plot is as contrived as they make them (sunsets and wild ponies everywhere should sue for exploitation) and if you know Sparks, you know how this will end.
The surprise coming out of the cinema though is that this extreme corniness works! And you will find a tear or two falling down your cheek.
But as if with the emotions in this film you will find yourself wondering if they're CGI as well.