11 October 2008 | jon.h.ochiai
Gere and Lane are better than "Rodanthe"
Richard Gere and Diane Lane are way better than the material in "Nights in Rodanthe". They almost justify sitting through this George C. Wolfe movie. Almost. I am a fan of Gere and Lane, and that is what attracted me to "Nights in Rodanthe". That's my story and I'm sticking by it. Ultimately, I liked the movie, but was also disappointed at the same time. "Nights in Rodanthe" does not have a compelling and cathartic Third Act. I did some homework before seeing the movie. The screenplay by Ann Peacock and John Ramano is based on the Nicholas Sparks novel. Not having read any of his novels, Sparks also wrote "The Notebook" and "Message in a Bottle". I had passed on seeing "The Notebook". However, I saw "Message in a Bottle". That is among my all time least favorite movies. Sparks possesses a singular thematic pattern which I don't particularly care for. So the fact that there is no distinguishing Third Act may be more Sparks' failing than Peacock and Ramano's.
This is all the more disappointing. "Nights in Rodanthe" is perfectly cast with beautiful and compelling actors in Gere, Lane, and James Franco. Diane Lane is gorgeous. Richard Gere looks amazingly vibrant and fit. And casting James Franco as his estranged son Mark is a wonderful touch. Lane radiates both a strength and vulnerability in Adrienne Willis. Adrienne is coping with divorce from her cheating husband Jack (Chris Meloni), surviving as a single mom, and still mourning the loss of her father. Adrienne agrees to run a bed and breakfast inn in Rodanthe for her friend Jean (Viola Davis), while her kids Amanda (Mae Whitman) and Danny (Charlie Tahan) are vacationing with Jack in Florida. Jean is taking a holiday in the Islands. Gere plays Dr. Paul Flanner, a retired brilliant plastic surgeon from Raleigh, N.C. Paul comes to Rodanthe to complete a tragedy in his life. Paul stays for 4 nights at the Inn in Rodanthe. Scott Glenn is powerful in the pivotal role of Robert Torrelson, whom Paul must atone for his past arrogance and failings.
It's a given that lost souls Adrienne and Paul will fall in love, and give each other the possibility of new life. This works because of the remarkable and captivating chemistry of Lane and Gere. Amidst the routine I got caught off guard when Lane and Gere are wondering through the attic-- Paul asks, "Who keeps you safe?" Lane admits that life often throws a curve saying, "You become what you think you're supposed to be
" Lane evokes a touching sadness and regret. Gere elicits a humane and endearing compassion. James Franco is great as Paul's son Mark. Franco has a heart wrenching scene with Lane, where he tells Adrienne, "Thank you for giving me back my father." There is a touching and understated scene where Gere has his arm around Lane as they walk on the beach following a story arc. Paul says, "I'm glad you were here
" Again Gere and Lane transcend the material. It unfortunate that much of this screen magic is wasted as director Wolfe concludes his story. "Nights in Rodanthe" deserves better and a resounding and complete resolution, even though I'm guessing that the movie is loyal to the Sparks novel. Gere, Lane, and we the audience deserve a complete and satisfying movie.