The chemistry between Richard Gere and Diane Lane periodically appears credible in the new film Nights in Rodanthe, adapted from Nicholas Sparks' novel, but the practicality and reasoning behind nearly all of their actions are unnatural. Borrowing heavily from the epic romance of 1980's Best Picture winner Out of Africa, Nights in Rodanthe fails to develop sense behind a spontaneous love affair between two unlikely candidates.
Dr. Paul Flanner (Richard Gere) feels responsible for the death of a surgery patient who died from a reaction to anesthesia. In his guilt, he agrees to drive to an isolated beach house in Rodanthe, North Carolina to meet with the husband (Scott Glenn), who has filed a lawsuit against the dispirited doctor. The trip is on the way to his ultimate destination, however, which is to retrieve his son (James Franco) from Equador, where he has moved to in order to distance himself from his disappointment with his father and his poor handling of the fated operation.
Meanwhile, Adrienne Willis (Diane Lane) is struggling with her two young children, who are in turn coping with their parent's recent divorce. Adrienne wants nothing to do with her unfaithful husband Jack (Christopher Meloni) who foments discontent with their children to coerce their mother into allowing him back. When Jack takes the kids for a spell, Adrienne travels to Rodanthe to look after a luxurious inn for her best friend ? the same vacation house that Dr. Flanner has booked ? leaving the two of them alone to slowly craft a life-changing romance.
The love story that builds from so many tragedies simply isn't convincing. The unmindful, unlucky doctor meets with the distraught mother in a terrifying hurricane ? what a perfect setting for romance. Even looking past the uninspired genesis, Nights in Rodanthe doesn't utilize its surprisingly short running time to develop the characters. The audience doesn't have time to become involved in their sudden affair, and the rest of their wooing takes place through voiceovers as they narrate love letters back and forth.
It's like a sillier version of Out of Africa, but with more crying, less sweeping romance, and more modernized problems for the lovers to contend with. Not as lengthy and noticeably missing a moving soundtrack and score, the story has been done repeatedly (especially from Nicholas Sparks); as a motion picture it is simply not ambitious enough to create a worthwhile movie-going experience.
- Mike Massie