Put together a couple of A-list stars who have worked together in the past and an author with a proven track record and you have a surefire film success, right? Well, not necessarily. You could find yourself with a great movie and a massive success. You could also, unfortunately, find yourself saddled with Nights in Rodanthe.
Starring Richard Gere and Diane Lane, who appeared opposite one another in Unfaithful, and based on the book of the same name by Nicholas Sparks, Nights in Rodanthe is a film which can barely even feign giving insights into the human condition. Directed by George C. Wolfe (Lackawanna Blues), the film purports to tell the story of two people, Adrienne Willis (Lane) and Dr. Paul Flanner (Gere) meeting and falling in love over the course of a few nights in Rodanthe. Both Adrienne and Paul are dealing with personal crises of their own, and they happen to meet when Adrienne agrees to watch over a bed & breakfast Paul is booked at for a friend. Save Paul, the B&B is empty, and the two consequently learn much about each other before, during, and after a none-too-memorable rainstorm that is clearly supposed to be far stronger than it is presented as being.
In fact, the same could be said for the entire film, though running a brief 97 minutes, from about 97 seconds in everyone in the audience knows exactly where the story is headed, but the characters simply aren’t interesting enough to make us want to watch them get there. The love the two grow to feel for one another and all the issues they deal with together and separately are supposed to be massive, life changing things. But, nothing is done to ever get the viewer to invest in either of the characters, there is simply no reason given for us to care about either of them except for the fact that it’s Richard Gere and Diane Lane. The movie has nothing to offer the viewer but the two stars and Sparks’ pedigree (if one enjoys his genre).
I don’t wish to ruin anything for viewers, but the story does take an unexpected turn towards the end, a turn which does nothing but infuriate the viewer at how far out of left field it comes. There seems little reason for the final moments of the film to proceed as they do, except that the people working behind the scenes on it didn’t want the audience to be able to say “I knew all along that would happen.” The end isn’t built to, it isn’t appropriately set up, it just happens. Consequently, it is just as foolish as everything that comes before it.
The Blu-ray release doesn’t even sound or look that good. The storm that hits Rodanthe doesn’t look real, and it certainly seems as though Lane and Gere were simply standing in front of a green screen for much of the outdoor portion of the storm. The audio levels appear off as well. Loud scenes are incredibly loud, and quiet scenes overly quiet. Watching the movie one will sit there with the remote constantly adjusting the volume to ensure that they can hear conversations without blowing out an ear drum.
The extras on the Blu-ray release are, mercifully, brief. There are some alternate scenes, a behind-the-scenes featurette in which Lane, Gere, Wolfe, and Sparks talk about the film and what brought them to it, a profile of Sparks, a behind-the-scenes look at Emmylou Harris’ creation of the movie’s title song “In Rodanthe,” and a music video. The Blu-ray release also comes with a digital copy which can be imported to one’s computer.
Outside of the stars, Nights in Rodanthe has little, if anything, to recommend it, and even Gere and Lane can’t save the audience from the utter boredom they’ll feel watching the story unfold.