Friday, September 5, 2008

No, there's nothing wrong with my eyes! I wasn't crying!


Diane Lane and Richard Gere team up for the third time for this three-hankie romance based on a Nicholas Sparks novel in Nights In Rodanthe. Adrienne Willis (Lane) feels her life falling apart around her: her unfaithful husband (Christopher Meloni) is begging to come home, and her teenage daughter (Mae Whitman) can't stand to be around her. When her friend (Viola Davis) asks her to watch her bed and breakfast in the picturesque town of Rodanthe, Adrienne leaps at the chance to get away. But since it's late in the season, there's only one guest: the handsome Dr. Paul Flanner (Gere), who is quiet about his reason for coming to the town. Driven together by a powerful hurricane, Adrienne and Paul find love and comfort in each other's arms.


What the heck is this? A soft-lit Hallmark card commercial? There’s a man swinging a little girl in his arms on a beach. Oh. That was Adrienne’s (Diane Lane) memory of her late father. Now she seems to have woken up into pseudo-reality, where she’s a middle-aged, single mom with a testy teenage daughter, a Harry-Potter-look-a-like son, and a beautiful big house that doesn’t seem to have been paid for with a sub-prime mortgage. She’s safe, then. What the hell is this? A magical castle out of a Tim Burton film? Oh. The camera is panning around a wooden, blue-shuttered house on stilts by the sea somewhere in remote North Carolina (Rodanthe? Or is Rodanthe a new toothpaste?), and it’s the house that Adrienne’s taking care of for her black friend. Oh, wait, make that her sassy black friend, now down in Miami with a hunka hunka burnin’ stud beside her. And here’s Adrienne’s hunk, Paul Flanner, a brooding plastic surgeon up from Raleigh (Richard Gere, who still puts on that hungry pout whether he’s looking all huffy or kissy). She’s safe in his arms, then. What the #@%$ is this? Turns out Dr Flanner had a woman die on his operating table and he’s come to the area because the woman’s husband wanted to meet him, but Flanner’s acting all dick-ish about it, surly and clinically detached. What’s Adrienne see in this guy? Did he actually just say to her, “Any man is a fool who doesn’t know how incredibly lucky he is to have you?” And now, all of a sudden, with a storm coming up, she’s kissing him and they’re taking their clothes off? Can you say “pathetic phallus-y”? Oh, I know what this is. The plot swinging from trauma to romance, lack of chemistry between leads, old coot as local colour, bad dialogue—none of it matters. This is porn for the lovelorn, where your heartstrings get plucked more amateurishly than bad banjo-pickin’ somewhere in North Carolina. The location is a prop. Middle-aged white people flirt with genuine pain but don’t really feel it because all their material trappings make them feel safe. Deadly boring families stay intact. Grief gets trotted out and cheaply exploited in order to burnish instant love with faux-realism. Someone has to die in order to give a brief romance the aura of sanctified, indisputable perfection. And then the ending—where we’re told that we not only can but MUST believe in love, and life, again. Wow. I never knew a romance could be so depressingly cynical: it really thinks it can pull th—wait, why are so many people around me crying? This one was just ok for me the one time that I did tear up, I played it off very well. LOL This gets just a 3 on my "Go See" scale.

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