Tuesday 23 February 2016

Movie Review: Nights In Rodanthe (2008)

A romantic drama, Nights In Rodanthe brings two damaged souls together in an idyllic beachfront house, but the film overflows with frothy emotions at every turn.

Harried mom Adrienne Willis (Diane Lane) is separated from husband Jack (Christopher Meloni), who had an affair but now wants to get back together. Adrienne agrees to help her friend Jean (Viola Davis) look after a scenic beachfront bed and breakfast in Rodanthe, North Carolina. The only guest is handsome plastic surgeon Dr. Paul Flanner (Richard Gere), who is going through a trauma of his own. Paul had an elderly patient die on the operating table, and he is in Rodanthe to meet the deceased woman's grieving husband Robert Torrelson (Scott Glenn). Paul is also planning a trip to Ecuador to try and reconnect with his estranged son Mark (James Franco in an uncredited role).

With a storm approaching, Adrienne and Paul start to get to know each other, and then fall deeply in love. He reawakens her to life's opportunities, and she helps him to come to terms with the Torrelson tragedy. But Adrienne still has to sort out her personal life and Paul needs to embark on his South American trip, causing a painful separation.

An adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks novel directed by George C. Wolfe, Nights In Rodanthe enjoys decent production values but cannot overcome the weak source material despite a talented cast. This is a romance where characters scream at each other one moment then fall into each other's arms the next, where the storm outside mimics the histrionics inside, and all the men, women and children, from the major characters to the minor, are quick to overflow with a display of overheated fervor at every opportunity.

There are some positives. The scenery at the character waterfront house makes up for some of the runaway emoting, and the search for an ending that avoids the obvious is laudable. There are hints of good intentions in exploring a troubled but evolving relationship between Adrienne and her teenaged daughter Amanda (Mae Whitman). Viola Davis shows up as Adrienne's best friend Jean (owner of the bed and breakfast) and adds an element of flighty fun.

In the central roles Richard Gere and Diane Lane do their best with the material, but are hampered with a script that emphasizes the obvious and shuns any attempt at nuance. The moods of Nights In Rodanthe are either black and stormy or bright and sunny, in a vivid demonstration of filmmaking by thick crayons.

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