Deep, dramatic movie love stories usually miss their mark. Nights in Rodanthe is hardly one of those films.
Nicholas Sparks’ last effort to land on the screen was The Notebook. Audiences still shiver at the romantic sparks Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling generated that reverberated through James Garner and Gena Rowlands.
So who to turn to when seeking to inhabit the two leads from Nights in Rodanthe?
Richard Gere and Diane Lane first set the screen afire in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Cotton Club. Decades later audiences would fall in love with them in the same manner that millions embraced the great cinematic pairings of the past in Unfaithful.
Add Gere and Lane to the storyline created by a romantic expert, Sparks, and the product should be heart-inspiring gold. Fortunately for Sparks’ faithful, Gere and Lane fans and anyone who appreciates a solid film, the stars and author form a trio of triumph.
Wolfe is wickedly good
The most effective scenes and nuances of Nights in Rodanthe that truly spark are evident of a director who as experience working actors to their dramatic core in intimate settings where the face must also deliver the emotion with the words. George C. Wolfe’s even hand is a perfect match for Sparks’ story and the Gere-Lane immaculate chemistry.
Wolfe, among a diverse resume, truly captured his Nights in Rodanthe stars’ fancy with his work on Lackawanna Blues. Where HBO and Broadway saw brilliance, movie audiences will benefit from a story told by a storyteller who comprehends life’s emotional nuances that at times can be so nuanced even those who feel them are clueless. Throughout Nights in Rodanthe, Wolfe weaves a web of romantic drama that will leave couples exiting the theater in the mood to celebrate love.
Sparks treasured ability lies in his ability to bring the spectrum of human emotions to a story without drifting into melodrama. Evidence of that ability sits in the supporting character plotlines that showcase two stellar actors at each end of the career spectrum. Scott Glenn gives the subtlest performance of his career as a pillar of a husband gutted by the loss of his life at the hands of Gere’s plastic surgeon.
A perfect storm
Gere’s doctor arrives in North Carolina during a fateful weekend that not only brings his desire to seek emotional closure, not monetarily, for his actions in the operating room, but a storm of biblical proportions also has plans.
Lane’s character is running a stunning seaside house that also serves as a Bed and Breakfast. The only guest on this weekend is Gere and an approaching hurricane.
Lane herself has a wounded heart. After a separation from her husband, her teenage daughter and young son are launched into the midst of an attempted reconciliation by her unfaithful husband. Needing time to think, she heads to North Carolina to aide a friend in dire need of a vacation.
Gere and Lane have something. It is impossible to define because it is indeed so uncommon. Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy had it. Bogart and Bacall scorched. Now, film audiences have Lane and Gere. Regardless of the genre, the script, director or plot, these two actors are always welcomed to reunite. But what sets this Gere-Lane pairing apart is the impeccably crafted love story at its heart in Nights in Rodanthe.
Sparks has found his ideal casting for the author’s film follow up to The Notebook. Where in that film he had two sets of actors to spark chemistry, throughout Nights in Rodanthe, Sparks has found a well of romantic synergy I hope we get to return to often.