So, I go to see films often with very little expectations, and I find it helps me to appreciate the movie more. I write this review in hopes that others will read and feel “prepared” to see “Nights in Rodanthe”.
Starring Richard Gere and Diane Lane, “Nights” is an angry kind of a romantic tale. What I mean by that is this: real people deal with painful feelings in an angry way and feel cleansed by it. I see it as an analogy for the mythical tale of the phoenix. Destroyed by fire and consumed, the phoenix is reborn from its own ashes. So it is with the main characters of this film. They are somewhat “destroyed” by their own issues, only to be “reborn” by having to face their issues.
It is a more realistic take on romance than many similar films. However, having said that, it also has some exceptional settings for romance to occur in. The setting of the film is in Rodanthe, in the Carolinas. It has beaches, wild horses, dunes, beach houses, and hurricanes – just the average setting of anyone’s exceptional romantic affair. Truthfully, it’s like something from the Outer Banks, but far more secluded. I doubt very seriously that this was a real house that was featured in the film. Although such a trivial piece of information may not ruin a film, it certainly can shatter the illusion. Just a note to future filmmakers: don’t ask the audience to believe a house built on a sand bar has lasted for more than 50 years WITHOUT serious stilts.
Beyond that, I found the film to be heart-warming in a lot of ways. Diane Lane is absolutely charming in most anything she does these days. She brings a reality to film that is rather refreshing. I see people I know in her role in this film, and that makes her acting even more impressive. I constantly am impressed by this actress’s ability to fool me into believing she is who she says she is. In this film, there are moments when she really does seem like the wife, going through a separation, and dealing with the pain felt by her children. Kudos to Miss Lane!
Richard Gere however is another story. Why is it that Hollywood insists that he has “it”? He plays pompous well, but is that really acting? He is not a very sympathetic character in this. He plays a doctor, a surgeon no less, that is being faced with a lawsuit for a wrongful death. I could believe he was a doctor, even a surgeon. What I can’t do is accept his acting a remorseful character. Granted, part of this is intentional script writing. Seriously though, I saw no real chemistry between Gere and Miss Lane on screen. This is supposed to be a romantic film and there is no chemistry between the actors? That’s what I call a failure.
A real surprise though was Scott Glenn, whom I haven’t seen in a film for years! He is absolutely believable and it is so wonderful to see him again! It’s really like running into an old friend that you haven’t seen in years. Forget Gere, the real actor in this movie is Scott Glenn. What a delight!
Another very admirable job of acting was delivered by the young actress, Mae Whitman. I found her to be cruelly intense as a teenager who is angry with her mother and thusly rebels constantly. Towards the end of the film, she carries the weight of the movie and she does so with real talent. She may not have physically looked like her “mother” in the movie, but she had me buying into their relationship easily.
All in all, there are a lot of good things to be said for this movie. It has a believable nature to it that I find very rare in movies akin to this. The actresses carry this movie, which isn’t a bad thing at all. In fact, the ladies herein bare their souls and not skin – how refreshing! It may be rated PG-13 for “some sensuality”, but honestly I think it was rated as such for “emotional content may be too real for some people”.
…and that’s it for this edition of THE REEL VOICE.