NIGHTS IN RODANTHE (George C. Wolfe). 97 minutes. Opens Friday (September 26). For venues and times, see Movies. Rating: NN
The romantic novelist Nicholas Sparks writes the sort of stories you have to tell full-on, as Nick Cassavetes did in his 2004 adaptation of The Notebook.
Milking every scene for maximum sizzle or sobbing, Cassavetes acknowledged the schmaltz level at which he was working, and never apologized for it. (Having Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling do most of the making out didn't hurt either.)
There are moments in Nights In Rodanthe that cry out for the same approach - specifically, the central hurricane sequence that finally pushes the emotionally battered characters played by Diane Lane and Richard Gere into each other's arms, where their simmering passions may burst into vivid PG-13 life.
But director George C. Wolfe is not Nick Cassavetes. His movie is a lumbering mixture of visually flat conversations, clumsy action sequences that seem to suggest that nasty hurricane is chasing Lane and Gere through the hallways of a charmingly ramshackle North Carolina hotel, and a reliance on picture-perfect digital backdrops that rivals the Star Wars prequels for unnecessary placement of actors against green-screen.
Gere and Lane recycle the moves they've perfected in the years since Unfaithful rebooted their careers. Gere does his sensitive shrugging thing a lot, and Lane hits most of the grief-and-discovery notes from Under The Tuscan Sun.
Audiences who like these actors in this kind of movie will get exactly what they want, but that's not an endorsement.Norman Wilner