Autumn in New York
dir Joan Chen
scr Allison Burnett
with Richard Gere, Winona Ryder, Anthony LaPaglia, Elaine Stritch, Vera Farmiga, Sherry Stringfield, Mary Beth Hurt, Jill Hennessy, JK Simmons, Sam Trammell, Kali Rocha, Steven Randazzo
release US 11.Aug.00; UK 15.Jun.01
MGM 00/US 1h45
1 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
The sheer, staggering awfulness of this film is almost hard to take in, as it fails on virtually every conceivable level (and then some). I'd like to say some thing nice, but I honestly can't think of anything. Will (Gere) is Manhattan's most eligible bachelor, and he likes it that way, refusing to commit to a relationship. After he meets--and beds--the very, very young Charlotte (Ryder), he tells her the brutal truth about his wanton ways, to let her down gently. But she surprises him with her reply, which is something like, "Well, I only have a few months to live--dodgy ticker. So why don't we have fun while I last?" But Gere can't even keep himself faithful for five minutes, and Charlotte may live for a year (although the film's title tells us otherwise). Meanwhile, another young woman (Farmiga) seems to be stalking Will for some reason.

So where do I begin? This film is just terrible--manipulative and cliche-ridden direction, a staggeringly trite score from Gabriel Yared, a bone-crushingly stupid script filled with guffaw-inducing lines (my favourite: Gere is dancing with Ryder at a posh benefit do, they're dressed beyond the hilt, romantic music playing, Gere leans in romantically and utters: "Man, you don't dance, you float!"). But the acting is even worse. Gere and Ryder are so miscast that they never perform a single convincing scene; not only don't they generate even the weakest spark of chemistry, but they actually seem to be in pain when they kiss (once only). We don't believe Will's crisis of conscience for a second, nor do we ever think Charlotte has decided she wants to live after all (we just want her to die already!). The friends, colleagues and family are all underwritten and harshly edited. And whenever the film isn't sweet/cute, it's sentimental/maudlin. This torturous film must rank as one of the worst-ever movie romances. OK, I'll give it one star for being in focus ... and for Strich's bravely un-selfconscious performance.
themes, language cert 15 11.Jun.01

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"Will (Gere) is a womanizing restauranteur whose first love, after himself, is food. Preparing it, but not often consuming it. 'Food is the only beautiful thing that truly nourishes,' he quips to a doe-eyed Charlotte (Ryder). Being irrepressibly young and beautiful, Charlotte is impressed by such deep thoughts. Being irrepressibly mature and beautiful, Will is impressed that Charlotte is impressed. Ah, a match made in Hollywood heaven. But wait! Charlotte has a dreaded Disease. You know the kind. Walking up a flight of stairs makes the beautiful heroine so winded she can hardly speak, yet without rendering her unable to make love multiple times a night with a passion never before experienced. Oh yes, as the illness progresses, the heroine's face becomes more pale and transparent while her lips grow more red and vibrant. She's fading fast, and not even the doctors know how long she has to live or what to do to prolong her life. Charlotte's innocent love for Will gives him a reason to die to his philandering ways while his need of her gives Charlotte a reason to live (or at least want to). Ah, the quintessential May-December romance with a touch of terminal illness. What better way to spend a summer's evening!" --Nina W, Minneapolis.
2001 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall

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