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September 27, 2008 |

By Agent Bedhead | Film | September 27, 2008 |

Forgive me for sounding oh-so-cliché, but something is tediously familiar in these cinematic waters. With Nights In Rodanthe, an adaptation of yet another bullshit novel by Nicholas Sparks, Richard Gere and Diane Lane appear together onscreen for the third time. Their first film, The Cotton Club, was directed by Francis Ford Coppola, and the second film, Unfaithful, was one of those commercial successes that came with mixed reviews. Now, they’ve pulled out together for a third effort. This sort of collaborative pattern, while not identical to, is much like the casting wet dream as imagined within Righteous Kill. The mind-blowing difference between these two instances of power casting is that, in Nights In Rodanthe, the two lead characters show much less chemistry towards one another than the two detectives of that little Al Pacino & Robert De Niro bromance.

Seriously, you have no idea how much it pains me to admit that.

Beginning with its tag line, Nights In Rodanthe doles out a generic statement that’s masquerading as prophetic wisdom: “It’s never too late for a second chance.” As luck would have it, it’s also never too late to head toward the theater door if you’ve suddenly realized the error of your ways. This film is a brazenly prototypical chick flick, so one would assume that, based upon my gender, I’d be toting several packs of Puffs Ultra To Go in my purse. No such precautions were taken or needed by myself, since I am clearly outside the target audience for the syrupy saccharine poured by Sparks and adapted, in this case, by director George C. Wolfe and screenwriters Ann Peacock and John Romano. The good news is that, if you love Nights In Rodanthe as a novel, then you will surely adore the movie as well. However, I’m not sure whether or not to be offended at the level of idiocy that drives those droves of viewers, almost entirely of the female persuasion, to find this subject matter to be satisfactory. Thematically, this story differs very little from previous Sparks novels, Message In A Bottle and A Walk To Remember, that have been translated to the big screen. Sparks aims for no larger message than to delude the reader into believing that it’s understandable, inevitable, and highly desirable to surrender to romantic love, despite any impractical and even tragic consequences. If any silver lining exists here, it’s that this sort of crap makes one truly realize and appreciate the biting satire of Jane Austen’s works.

Within Nights In Rodanthe, our romantic-dramatic heroine, Adrienne (Lane), has been wronged by her husband, Jack (Christopher Meloni), whom she’s devoted her life to, y’all. She’s not only given away her best years to this man, but she’s borne his children and, therefore, consigned herself to a life of drudgery and cheery-faced submission while he, in typical chick-flick fashion, thanks her by letting his penis do the walking. This is the sort of crap that, naturally, makes the skin of every commonsensical human being, male or female, do the Funky Cold Medina.

The story largely takes place on the picturesque outer banks of North Carolina on the island of Rodanthe. For whatever unknown reason, Adrienne has agreed to assume responsibilities for a bed-and-breakfast (with emphasis on the “bed” aspect) inn as a favor to her friend. Our heroine plans, during this weekend, to think things over and decide whether to take back that cheating ex-husband, who is suddenly the very picture of contrition. Naturally, the off-season brings to the inn just one guest, a broodingly handsome doctor named Paul (Gere), whose own troubles stem from both family and career and have wounded him deeply just beneath the surface. In her mind, Adrienne immediately psychoanalyzes Paul and then easily draws the rest of his exceedingly trite life story out of him. Meanwhile, no one seems to have noticed that a very large-scale hurricane is about to bear down upon the island. Not that any extra time would have mattered, for Sparks means to place Adrienne and Paul alone together for the duration of the storm, so that she can cling to him and he can save her from a conveniently toppling china cabinet. Then, unsurprisingly, these two tortured souls topple into bed for a weekend of lovemaking and, somehow, find enough solace in each other to heal their mutual inner wounds. As the couple happily bangs away, they never worry that this inn is precariously located on the water’s edge and, from the looks of it, built entirely from particle board and construction paper. None of this matters, however, because Adrienne and Paul cling to each other and survive this natural catastrophe through the miracle of hurricane sex.

When the storm clears, all of Adrienne and Paul’s problems have practically disappeared in the morning light. A little driftwood has collected itself upon the beach, but the inn itself and Paul’s vehicle remain in perfect condition. The only thing missing from this picture would be some bunnies frolicking in the wet sands as Adrienne and Paul continue to breathe life into each other with so-called passionate kisses. Life so is fucking great now, decisions are suddenly so easy to make, and this deepest of loves will prevail forever. Or, perhaps it was just a frantic pairing of two desperate people that ended up shaping the entire futures of these two tortured souls. We’ll never know, but who really gives a shit?

If you’re actually wanting to see this film for its star power, don’t disappoint yourself. Diane Lane, despite her obvious talent, has been here too many times and can do this sort of thing in her sleep. Unfortunately, one cannot say the same for Richard Gere, who may have actually been comatose during the entirety of the film’s production. His lifeless portrayal of a doctor in crisis contrasts harshly against Lane’s extremely detailed representation of the romantic-dramatic heroine. At the same time, it is also glaringly obvious that Lane finds this sort of thing to be beneath her and, clearly, does not want to be in this film. What a couple of wasters.

Agent Bedhead (a.k.a. “Kimberly”) lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She and her little black heart can be found at

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