Nights in Rodanthe
dir George C Wolfe
scr Ann Peacock, John Romano
with Richard Gere, Diane Lane, Christopher Meloni, Viola Davis, James Franco, Scott Glenn, Pablo Schreiber, Mae Whitman, Charlie Tahan, Becky Ann Baker, Carolyn McCormick, Linda Molloy
release US 26.Sep.08, UK 10.Oct.08
08/US Warner 1h38
Nights in Rodanthe
The first supper: Lane and Gere

davis franco glenn
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Nights in Rodanthe A beautifully filmed and acted adult romance, this involving movie ultimately succumbs to a severe case of the weepies, as we know it must. But then, it's based on a novel by Nicholas Sparks (The Notebook), so what do we expect?

Adrienne (Lane) is shocked when her ex-husband (Meloni) suddenly says he wants to come back, just as he's taking the kids (rebel teen Whitman and cute nerd Tahan) away for a holiday. Adrienne decides to think about it while housesitting for a friend (Davis) in a gigantic inn on the North Carolina coast. The only guest is Paul (Gere), a doctor who's also on the cusp of life-changing events. And when a hurricane strikes, the two connect in unexpected ways.

Lane and Gere effortlessly slip into these roles, subtly adding charisma and wit where the script is mopey and earnest. Lane is especially compelling, as Adrienne deflects her internal struggle and then is surprised this handsome stranger. The chemistry between them is perhaps too natural, but that only makes us like them more. Since the story is told from Adrienne's perspective, Lane gets the strongest scenes later on, most notably a lovely tender moment with Whitman.

The rest of the supporting cast looks perpetually on the verge of bursting into tears, even when cracking a joke. Director Wolfe is clearly working to tug on the heartstrings, so he piles on sweeping cinematography, soaring music, over-decorated sets and, at the centre, a fairy tale guesthouse that's too big, too perfect, too quirky and too oddly placed literally in the surf to be real (not to mention the logic issues such as the fact that the cars, parked underneath, are undamaged by the storm surge).

But never mind, you don't watch (or read) a Nicholas Sparks story for gritty authenticity or watertight logic. You just want to get as far through a box of tissues as possible. Wispy and wistful as it is, the film comes to life in Lane and Gere's eyes as they grapple with life priorities and second chances. Cynics may be able to withstand the storm of sappiness, but everyone else should be warned.

cert pg themes, innuendo, some language 25.Sep.08

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© 2008 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall