This adaptation of the Nicholas Sparks novel succeeds at being an entertaining and engaging romance film that stays away from sap and cliché’s of the genre, but still kind of prescribes to the formula.
Adrienne (Diane Lane) is a separated mother with two kids who is heading to Rodanthe for a weekend to cover running a bed and breakfast of her best friend. Before she leaves her husband says she wants her back and sends her off for the weekend to her thoughts and ideas running through her head. Paul (Richard Gere) is Adrienne’s only guest for the weekend and his nerves and tensions are spinning almost as powerful as the rumored hurricane blowing into the town of Rodanthe. The two come to the inn to clear their thoughts and mull there future paths and the two begin to bond over dinners and stories as they wait out the on coming hurricane.
I will not share more, as the unfolding relationship is the whole point of the film and I will not spoil that for those still interested. What you should know is that for 2/3 of the film it works quite well actually. Like I mentioned in my opening blurb, the film steers from sap and cliché and feels fairly honest and natural between the two. Sure there are a couple of convenient circumstances but it never feels over contrived or absurd.
Richard Gere does a great job as Paul and is very convincing with his swelling emotions. He is a lost man, with no idea where he is going, and he desperately needs something to right his ship. He is charming and very believable and does a fantastic job here. Diane Lane on the other hand was a bit lacking. When working with Gere she gets the job done, but alone or working with the children in the film, she just doesn’t come off as believable and almost laughable at a couple moments. The director really should have done something more to get more out of her, but oh well to late for that now. James Franco and Christopher Meloni both turn in quick but solid turns with Viola Davis providing a bit of a stereotypical but funny turn as Adrienne’s best friend.
Also to note, is the excellent cinematography throughout the picture. I will say early on they hold on a bit to long for a few, but as it goes on there is some great blue screen work on display as well as one of the most beautiful shots I have seen in a movie this year on a darkly lit dock where the two share a moment.
The final 1/3 of the film falls a bit into that cliché and sap that the movie did such a good job of avoiding, while also abandoning one of the lessons of the film for a short while, but it doesn’t ruin an otherwise solid romantic effort put up on screen.
In the end, Nights in Rodanthe, is a good romance picture that is held back by its female lead and its inability to get too original and ultimately falling into cliché by the end. But the trip to get there is surprisingly solid and Gere does a great job in the film, as he usually does. If your a fan of romance, you should probably find this one to be a winner, but not necessarily a masterpiece, but that’s ok because it does engage and invest you in the characters and story.