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Goodness… what a stinker! I went into this with moderate expectations because of my mixed record on Nicholas Sparks film adaptations. I absolutely hated Dear John and The Lucky One, two of the weakest romance films I’ve ever seen, but I do like The Notebook. I really wanted to like this film because I like Diane Lane a lot and the premise of the film sounded so lovely. The idea of two people spending a few peaceful days together in an absolutely gorgeous beach house sounds like the perfect set-up for a great romance film, and to be fair, that is a great set-up. The problem with Nights in Rodanthe is that it can’t take that great premise and make a worthwhile film out of it.
There has to be a proper foundation set up in order for us as the audience to become invested in a romantic relationship. I assumed that most of the film would be these two people getting to know one another in a meaningful way and then of course falling in love, but that’s not exactly what happens. These two people have dinner a couple times and have pretty minimal conversation and then boom all of a sudden they’re head over heels in love.
When I say head over heels in love, I mean it. After two days of knowing one another they start behaving as if they’ve been married for years…. it’s very forced. It’s not that Diane Lane and Richard Gere don’t have chemistry because they do, but the film doesn’t take the time to build a foundation for their romance. It was impossible for me to buy their relationship because of how rushed it all is. I kept thinking: You people literally just meet and you’re acting like you’re already married.
I’m all in for a somewhat cheesy romance film that’s sweet but this film is more than cheesy; it’s just completely ridiculous. How am I as an audience member supposed to become swept up in this whirlwind romance if the script doesn’t take the time to pull me in? There’s an unnecessary subplot involving Gere’s character that weakens the film even more. They waste a good chunk of the first half on this subplot and it has very little to do with him and Lane’s relationship. I wish the writers had thrown out that subplot and instead just focused on Gere and Lane building a real connection.
The second half of the film is considerably different from the first. The first half takes place solely at the beach house and the second half is all about them communicating back and forth via letter and navigating their long distance relationship. The second half and everything that occurs within it relies on the audience being invested in their romance in order to have emotional resonance. The problem is that the film never gave me a real romance or relationship to care about. The second half and the ending rings hollow because of the very lazy and scatterbrained first half. If the script actually built a real romance between these people then this whole thing could’ve actually had some impact… but it didn’t.
You may be wondering if I have anything at all positive to say about this mess of a film, and the answer is yes. Yes, there are a few good things about Nights in Rodanthe, I only wish one of these things was the script. The best thing this entire film has to offer is the location and scenery…. WOW! The beach house this takes place at is simply immaculate. The house is a character of its own, beautiful inside and out. There’s also a lot of luscious shots of the beach and that’s lovely as ever. In addition to the gorgeous location and visuals, Diane Lane does give a good performance. You can’t help but love Lane, she’s a gifted actress and she does the absolute best she can with this weak script. That’s really it as far as positives. Richard Gere is ok but to be honest I’ve seen a lot better from him in other films.
Unfortunately, Nights in Rodanthe is a flat lifeless film that fails to build a proper foundation for the romance the entire film revolves around. If you’d like to watch a well made film starring Diane Lane and Richard Gere then I highly recommend Unfaithful!
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