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Heather's Movie Review: Nights in Rodanthe

Updated on October 21, 2008

One thing was certain at the start of Nights in Rodanthe: Richard Gere and Diane Lane have chemistry. That had been proven two times before in 1984s The Cotton Club and 2002s Unfaithful. For Rodanthe, Gere and Lane struggled to find happiness with mixed results.

The film's plot began with single mother Adrienne (Lane) in a transition period as she decided whether or not to divorce her cheating husband (Christopher Meloni). Soon the story shifted to successful doctor Paul (Gere) with a personal life in complete shambles. Both of them were searching for something more meaningful in their lives such as a lifelong love they always wanted and never got. Adrienne traveled to her friend's (Viola Davis) inn to fill in as innkeeper while she went on vacation. Her job was to keep the inn running for its single guest: Paul. His arrival at the inn changed both their demeanors from their first glance on. Within one weekend, Adrienne and Paul formed an unbreakable bond that had the possibility of evolving into love.

Once Paul and Adrienne realized their connection, they spent a portion of the film fighting their attraction. It was apparent to everyone that Paul and Adrienne's relationship was more than a casual fling. Did they notice it before it was too late? Rodanthe waged that question and answered it clearly. Depending on the audience, the answer might've been the right one, or the wrong one.

As a worldly woman, Lane's portrayal of a vulnerable woman went through a wide range of emotions within a single scene. Lane's biggest scenes allowed her to privately suffer from her character's anguish even when she needed to plaster a smile on. In one particular scene, Lane took a phone call from her husband about possibly getting back together. She struggled with her need to help her children's happiness and find her path outside of a crumbling relationship. Lane excelled best in the film when Adrienne finally broke free from her protective shell and allowed herself to trust Paul. Once that happened, everything else came into place with her performance.

Balancing Lane was Gere's performance as a weathered doctor who had been through one too many personal storms in his family and his life. Gere's American Gigolo and Pretty Woman glory days were long behind him years ago, but his matinee appeal lived on in this film. His smile lit up the screen every time he looked at Lane or allowed his character the opportunity to have some fun. The only weak spot was early in the film when Gere's character was initially forced to make a personal mea culpa for a past mistake. Gere tried his best to offer an unique spin to that early portion of the film but came up short due to the material.

Sadly, Rodanthe's plot followed a pretty standard format of boy and girl's awkward first encounter to their first real intimate moment together. It offered very little mystery with that storyline formula, which was relatively success despite its predictability. What made the film interesting was the surprising little moments that happened throughout such as Lane and Gere spontaneously cleaning out the pantry after some alcohol consumption. Laughter was the only proper necessary for a cinematic moment as carefree as that. Moments like those balanced the heavier ones where Gere and Lane had to get serious to deal with their personal problems. Even though Rodanthe's plot was predictable, the movie was a breeze, except for an ending that should've been cut a lot sooner than the closing credits appeared.

In terms of romantic movies, Rodanthe was an entertaining film in its own right but it wasn't the best romance film in the least. Gere and Lane were the only real draws in the film. If it wasn't for their joint presence, Rodanthe would've been another run of the mill cable movie of the week. Thankfully, audiences had gotten to enjoy this film on the big screen instead of on Lifetime.

Grade: 3.5 out of 5 stars


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