Warner Bros. // 2008 // 97 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Clark Douglas // February 10th, 2009
It's never too late for a second chance.
"We all make choices."
Life hasn't been easy lately for Adrienne Willis (Diane Lane, Must Love Dogs). She has been separated from her unfaithful husband (Christopher Meloni, Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay) for the past few months, and now her husband is requesting to come back home. Adrienne has two children, a young boy named Danny (Charlie Tahan, I Am Legend) and a teenage girl named Amanda (Tinker Bell). Of course the kids want their dad to come back home, but the decision is not an easy one for Adrienne. She just needs some time to think. Her husband agrees to take the kids for a while, and Adrienne decides to spend some time alone.
Adrienne has a close friend named Jean (Viola Davis, Doubt) who owns a beautiful beachside hotel that she rents out. Jean is looking to get away for a while, and asks Adrienne if she would mind keeping an eye on the hotel while she's gone. Adrienne feels like this will provide the perfect opportunity for her to get a little bit of peace and quiet, so she agrees. It's not a terribly difficult job. Adrienne just needs to keep things tidy, do a bit of organizing and upkeep, and serve as host for a single guest that will be coming to stay at the hotel for a few days.
The guest is Dr. Paul Flanner (Richard Gere, Dr. T and the Women), a dreamy doctor who feels a bit sick on the inside. Recently, one of Flanner's operations turned sour, and a woman's life was lost on the operating table. Dr. Flanner is preparing for a visit with the woman's grieving husband (Scott Glenn, Courage Under Fire). Adrienne and Dr. Flanner are both lonely people aching to make a connection, and soon they begin to warm up to each other. However, the passion comes at a cost: neither can be truly happy until they work up the courage to confront the mistakes they have made. Will Dr. Flanner be forgiven for his actions? Will Adrienne make the right decision for herself and her children? Will these two people find true peace and joy?
Nights in Rodanthe is the fourth film based on a novel by Nicholas Sparks. The previous three titles were Message in a Bottle, A Walk to Remember, and The Notebook. At this point, you probably know whether or not you want to see the film, but I'll carry on with the review nonetheless. The ads have proudly proclaimed that Nights in Rodanthe is the film that reunites the stars of Unfaithful, which I find a little unusual, considering that this film is absolutely nothing like Unfaithful. Even so, Richard Gere and Diane Lane are talented people, and it's always nice when grown-ups get an opportunity to star in a romance.
There may be two grown-ups in the movie, but there is only one real human being. That would be Adrienne, played with tenderness and understanding by Diane Lane. Nights in Rodanthe is her story, despite the fact that Mr. Gere receives first billing. The film's best plot line has nothing to do with romance, but focuses on Adrienne and her two children. Films like this tend to make the big decisions a bit too easy by making one guy a complete jerk and the other guy a flawless dream. While Gere certainly qualifies as the latter, the film doesn't go out of its way to make Adrienne's husband a jerk. This makes it all the more difficult for Adrienne to confront the idea of explaining to the kids that she isn't going to take Daddy back.
As pleased as I was by the film's willingness to accept the messiness of life, Nights in Rodanthe is still preposterous in plenty of ways. The hotel on the beach is by no means a hotel that anyone in the film would be wealthy enough to come within 100 feet of. It seems like the sort of building that was constructed for the sole purpose of serving as the backdrop of a romantic film or novel. The romance between our two stars is actually quite dull and uninvolving, mostly due to the fact that Gere brings absolutely nothing other than his good looks to the role (I can hear a soft voice murmuring, "But isn't that more than enough?"). The ending is not a cheat, but it's a conveniently tear-jerking route out of a potentially sticky situation. It's not dishonest, but it's much too easy.
The hi-def transfer is very solid, nicely capturing the super-romantic atmosphere of the film (artificial and hokey though it may be). There are a few shots of the beach scenery in the film that are just gorgeous, and the strong background detail really adds a lush resonance to these images. Those moments aside, Nights in Rodanthe doesn't offer a lot to look at other than Diane Lane and Richard Gere (there's that murmuring again). As far as that goes, facial detail is quite solid despite very faint grain throughout the film. Blacks are nice and deep, which is fortunate considering the fact that this PG-13 film forces it's characters to take care of their business in the shadows. The audio is clear and well-balanced throughout, and I was pleased that the gentle soundtrack didn't push quite as hard as these things do from time to time. This is a romance for older viewers, so don't expect anything that will make your speakers rumble, but it's a solid track.
Warner Bros. has provided a handful of lightweight featurettes to the package. "The Nature of Love" is a making-of featurette featuring interviews with Lane, Gere, and director George C. Wolf, while "A Time for Love: Keeping up with Nicolas Sparks" offers a biography on the much-loved novelist. We also get a brief featurette about singer Emmylou Harris, and a music video featuring Gavin Rossdale. Finally, there are a few deleted scenes with optional commentary. Though all of these extras could have easily fit on the DVD, Warner Bros. decided to make them all Blu-ray exclusives. C'mon, that's kind of uncool, guys. Anyway, if you're equipped with a Blu-ray player, you'll benefit from this marketing scheme. Oh, and the disc is equipped with BD Live.
It's not all that great, but...wait, where did everyone go? You all ready bought the movie. Oh, well. I suppose you could do worse. The Blu-ray disc looks and sounds quite good, and it's essential if you care about supplements.
Guilty, but only because I don't have the option of saying, "Kinda sorta
just a little bit guilty, but not really, but yeah, it actually is, I don't
know, guilty, I guess."
Review content copyright © 2009 Clark Douglas; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* 2.40:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p Widescreen)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Portuguese)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
Running Time: 97 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Alternate Scenes
* Music Video