Unfaithful stars Diane Lane and Richard Gere retain a modest, natural chemistry in their big-screen reunion Nights in Rodanthe, the story of two lonely parents—Lane’s Adrienne and Gere’s Dr. Paul—who are similarly estranged from their spouses and at odds with their kids, and thus destined to fall for each other upon meeting over a stormy weekend at the Rodanthe, North Carolina beachfront inn owned by Adrienne’s friend. Yet despite meet-cute amour and tender lovemaking galore (replete with Dr. Paul describing Adrienne’s body as a topographical wonderland), there’s little room for genuine emotion in this turgid romantic fantasy adapted from a novel by slop-meister Nicholas Sparks, so forcefully is its every second dominated and decimated by grinding plot machinations. The plot is, in fact, so vigorously omnipresent that I soon began to personify it as a hulking, rampaging fiend, stomping and smashing its way through scene after scene with sneering killjoy glee, unremorsefully determined to squelch any trace of authenticity underneath its heavy boot. “Enjoy some metaphorical compost!” I imagined it laughing as a turbulent hurricane snugly paralleled Adrienne and Paul’s tumultuous first coupling. “Would you like some ham-fisted symbolism with your clichés?” it seemingly mocked as it piled on jibber-jabber about handcrafted boxes made from scarred driftwood as well as wild horses that occasionally stampede (like love unchained!) across the sand. “And for good measure, here are some one-dimensional inner demons and dueling parent-offspring tensions,” the film apparently snickered as it indulged in egregiously sappy twists and turns, intent on implementing a full-on assault of squishy sentimentality. Faced with this bombardment, all hope for poignant romance was quickly lost, with the few signs of intelligent life—most courtesy of Lane, in offhand gestures such as when she casually flicks stray hairs out of her face—destroyed by corny montages, even cornier narration grafted to those montages, and shimmering-sunny and scary-dark cinematography straight out of a commercial for depression medication, which is what contrived, faux-mature slop like this makes one urgently pine for.
- George C. Wolfe
- Ann Peacock, John Romano
- Richard Gere, Diane Lane, Christopher Meloni, Viola Davis, Scott Glenn
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