In Nights in Rodanthe, author Nicholas Sparks finds a new way to pull on the heartstrings of unsuspecting viewers. Though this film did not hold all the passion of The Notebook, it carried with it a different significance. Instead of two young and naive lovers, we now have two mature adults with entirely different priorities and a whole new set of emotional baggage.
Adrienne Willis (Diane Lane) is a mother who has separated from her unfaithful husband who now tries to win his way back into her heart. Dr. Paul Planner is a famous plastic surgeon that has lost contact with his son after a procedure of his went awry, resulting in the death of a patient. When her best friend needs to go away for a weekend, Adrienne offers to take care of her inn as an excuse to escape her troubles. Paul, who has come to town to visit the family of his deceased patient, ends up being Adrienne’s only guest at the inn. The two spend the weekend getting to know each other and things escalate romantically when the two are trapped together during a hurricane and quickly fall in love. There are, however, a few twists along the way as Sparks, true to form, doesn’t let his characters get off easy.
Gere and Lane have teamed up together once again since playing a man and his adulterous wife in the 2002 film Unfaithful. Watching the two, their chemistry and comfort level with each other is certainly undeniable. Lane’s recent films include Jumper and Untraceable while Gere recently worked on The Flock and I’m Not There. This is George C. Wolfe’s first time directing for the big screen.
As I mentioned before, the film lacks the heat of other, perhaps younger, romances and yet it somehow finds its way as a portrayal of two people who fall in love in the middle of life rather than the beginning. They are forced to re-evaluate the lives they have built and determine where to go next.
What I really liked about this film was how well I got to know Lane’s character. I felt every emotion right along with her and, I’m not ashamed to say, even shared a few of her tears. I felt the complexity of the situation she finds herself in. While her husband did cheat on her, she can’t help but consider taking him back in order to do what’s best for her family. In the end, her nobility and strength made me genuinely want to see this woman happy.
As for improvements that could have been made in the film, I found that it merely skimmed the surface of some of its juiciest aspects. For instance, we are given only glances at the operation that goes wrong with Paul’s patient and then we are supposed to feel strongly about the situation when we were never really given access to it in the first place.
The same sentiment can be applied to Adrienne and her husband. We know that he is a less-than-perfect guy, but we never really get the full impact of what he did to her because we don’t get to see it. I feel that this film could have used more dramatic scenes instead of simply relying on the characters to trick us into feeling as though we could relate to what was going on.
All in all, I think this film did a good job of expressing a lot of emotion and exploring very realistic situations that people find themselves in everyday. I recommend Nights in Rodanthe to those looking for a heartfelt movie about compassion, family, and the strength one finds to begin again.