Nights in Rodanthe

Starring Richard gere and Diane Lane. Directed by George C. Wolfe
Running Time: 96 mins
Rated: Rated PG (mild themes and coarse language)

Nicholas Sparks has written some very popular best sellers which are highly emotional. Several have been made into films, Message in a Bottle, A Walk to Remember, The Notebook. Such novels and films are easy to look down on as romantic tearjerkers - and they are - but who says we can't like this playing on our emotions? (It's only 'manipulation' when you don't approve of it!)

Adrienne, the mother of a critical teenage daughter and a bookish 10 year old son, grieving the recent death of a beloved father and upset that her husband has walked out on his family for another woman but who is now pleading to be taken back, helps out a close friend at her guest house resort on the North Carolina coast for the weekend. A hurricane is strengthening in the Atlantic. But, that will be nothing to the emotional storm she will experience. The only guest is a doctor, Paul, who is fighting a malpractice lawsuit and whose doctor son is alienated from him and has gone to work for the poor in Ecuador. Even though you can make an educated guess - or, really, any old reasonable guess - as to what is going to happen (and, by and large, you will be right), most will not be able to avoid a tear or two (or more).

Time must be passing. Richard Gere plays Paul and James Franco plays his son. Gere will be 60 in 2009. On the other hand, time is not passing so fast that the plot is not similar to many that we have seen so often over the decades, and will probably see many times more.

But, on the whole, this is Diane Lane's film. She makes her character more interesting and easy to identify with than many other actresses, ordinary in her life and troubles, but with that something extra which makes her a committed mother despite everything and open to more vitality in her life. Richard Gere is, well, Richard Gere, exerting his charm as usual even though he has to learn to be a more humane doctor in his dealings with people. There is a strong sequence with Scott Glenn as the bereaved husband of 43 years whose wife has died inexplicably on the operating table.

And the North Carolina scenery is magnificent even if the prospect of hurricanes is daunting.

Villlage Roadshow ut November 6

Fr Peter Malone MSC directs the film desk of SIGNIS: the World Association of Catholic Communicators, and is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting

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