If this beach-town inn had Yelp reviews it would say: “Steer clear!”
Synopsis: A doctor, who is traveling to see his estranged son, sparks with an unhappily married woman at a North Carolina inn. (IMDB)
Starring: Diane Lane, Richard Gere, and Christopher Meloni
Writers: Ann Peacock and John Romano
Director: George C. Wolfe
Rating: PG-13 (United States)
Running Time: 97mins
Nights in Rodanthe follows the story of a doctor (Richard Gere) who looks to fix his strained relationship with his son. En route to his destination, he stops at a beach-town inn where he meets an unhappily married woman (Diane Lane). As she considers divorce, the two of them enter into a passionate affair where both of them help each other to rediscover the joys of life.
It feels like at this point Nicholas Sparks stories fit a particular model and while that might work in novels, it hasn’t translated well to film. The biggest issue is of course the story as it is really dead on arrival. The story feels so rushed with next to no direction as their romance seems to blossom and disappear in the blink of an eye. As soon as Gere and Lane meet and start their affair, the story has reached its peak. Once they’ve found each other it becomes a situation of her yearning for his love. She waits for him while idly staying in her unhealthy marriage. It may try to appear like the story of a hopeless romantic, but this is a boring echo of that fantasy. It comes with the typical soul-crushing finale of a Nicholas Sparks story, but never emotionally resonates the way it hopes.
The acting is passable as Gere and Lane headline a surprisingly deep cast, but they are given nothing to work with. The characters are hollow and one-dimensional. They deliver boring, inorganic dialogue that feels like forced romantic banter. Everything these characters do is boring as we follow their mundane lives in what should be an idyllic town. The only salvageable part of the entire film is the performance of Scott Glenn as a heartbroken widow. He steals the entire film with a powerful, authentic performance as a grief-stricken man seeking closure. He manages to create some actual genuine tears for his character, but this is completely ruined by the film he is surrounded by.
Overall, Nights in Rodanthe is a boring mess of a romantic drama that uses gimmicky tear-jerking moments to pull its loyal audience in. The overly cliched story feels derivative in nature. It is riddled with unrealistic scenarios and feels nothing like a coherent narrative. The disconnect in the story causes it to be hard to invest in these characters. It may look pretty and be filled with pretty people, but this is not a good romance film, or film period. It takes the spark out of Nicholas Sparks.
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