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Nights in Rodanthe (7/10)

by Tony Medley

Runtime 94 minutes.

Richard Gere and Diane Lane are back again; last seen together in the steamy “Unfaithful” (2002), which still gets people’s pulses rising when they think of it.

Directed by George C. Wolfe, with a screenplay by Ann Peacock and John Romano, this is from a book by Nicholas Sparks (2004’s “The Notebook,” and 1999’s “Message in a Bottle”) who has made a career of manipulating the flow of tears. This one is no exception, but it doesn’t come close to the water that flowed from “The Notebook.”

Adrienne (Lane) is trying to adjust to her abandonment by her husband, Jack (Christopher Meloni from “Law and Order SVU”), when she agrees to run the picturesque inn of her friend, Jean (Viola Davis), which sits on stilts on the Outer Banks of North Carolina for four days. Only one guest is scheduled, Paul (Gere), a surgeon, who is coming to face the husband (Scott Glenn) of a woman who died on Paul’s operating table.

Naturally, they become involved or there would be no movie. They become quickly intimate, and I don’t just mean sexually. It was the emotional intimacy that seemed a little presumptuous to me. They have just met and Paul, who, according to Gere, is “an A-type who sucks the energy out of every room he’s in,” goes over to see Glenn; Adrienne accompanies him. It doesn’t go well. When they return, Adrienne berates him for the way he acted, and he fights back attacking her for her situation. They’ve only known each other for a few hours. Lane, however, rationalizes, “You can open up to someone you’ve known for six hours because you don’t think you’ll ever see them again, never realizing they will change your life.” Maybe. Anyway, as might be expected, from contention comes romance.

Someone wasn’t thinking, however, when it comes to believability. After a hurricane batters the house all night long, knocking down all the furniture, blowing the windows open, making a heck of a noise, the next morning Paul goes down and gets in his car to drive away. The car looks as if it just came out of the carwash, not a spot on it.

I’m not sure about the location, either. The inn is built on stilts, so close to the shore that the tide actually runs under the house. A hurricane is coming. If Adrienne and Paul are half as smart as they are beautiful, they wouldn’t stay in this flimsy structure with a hurricane approaching. The inn doesn’t look as if it could withstand someone’s strong breath blowing on it, much less 100 mph winds. And hurricanes bring tides. If a hurricane actually hit with the ferocity it hits in this film, the inn would be quickly converted to kindling. But they don’t even think about leaving.

Oh, well, this is a movie and it has two gorgeous people. Gere basically just plays the hunk, but Lane has to show some emotion since she’s concerned about her children and her philandering husband. Her emotions run the gamut from A to maybe E or G and she does give a good performance. For 94 minutes women (at least middle-aged women) can drink in Gere and men (of all ages) can gaze at Lane (whose beauty makes me gasp for air). What’s wrong with that?

September 24, 2008