Ticket price: 10.99
Seat: lower right
Attendance: 6, including me (the only man).
Weather: clear, cool
Food: Combo 1 (popcorn, Coke, Reese’s whipped bar thing)
Expectations: so very low
Pre-show ads: Hyundai, Telus
Trailers: The Brothers Bloom, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Nothing Like the Holidays, Yes Man
Let’s get something out of the way immediately: I hated this movie. I hate any movie that manipulates its audience like this. I hated The Notebook too, for the same reason. Nights in Rodanthe is pornography for Women of a Certain Age: a clearing house where they can live out the fantasies of taking a vacation in an exotic locale, meeting and fucking a handsome stranger, being told everything they want to hear, reconnecting with an angry teenage daughter, being complimented by said daughter’s friends, etc.
And the worst part is that is based on a book by Nicholas Sparks, which apparently means that someone has to die in order to wring tears from the audience in the last act. I say “apparently” because I haven’t had the pleasure of reading his books, just the displeasure of watching a few of the movies based on them, and I assume they do not change the endings. If I am wrong, my apologies to him.
Actually, on second thought, fuck him. And his books.
Anyway, the books are not the subject here, the movie is, so: Diane Lane plays Tess Trueheart, a single mother who volunteers to look after a friend’s impossibly well-kept inn on the shore of North Carolina. Just before she leaves, she packs off her kids with their father (Chris Meloni), who wants to come back to her and tries to work the kids against her.
Instead, Tess goes to the inn and listens to some jazz, which apparently she never does at home; looks at her old paintings and driftwood sculptures, which she never does anymore either; and flirts with the inn’s only guest, Squinty Richard, a disgraced surgeon who has come to N.C. at the request of a late patient’s husband. Meanwhile, a symbolic hurricane is gathering strength offshore, landing just in time fir Tess and Squinty to have their first fight, followed by their first makeup sex.
Incidentally, dear filmmakers, if I want to see sex between senior citizens, I will Google it. I’m a little horrified to wonder if this is in fact the first sex scene I have seen all year in Cinema 3. The rest of the film is no better visually, alternating between dull talking heads and Tess getting her groove back. Gere and Lane do their best with the weak script they have been handed, and steady hands like James Franco and Scott Glenn and Chris Meloni try their best as well, to no avail.
Perhaps you feel I’m being too rough on this formula movie, and perhaps you’re right; but the way I see it, movies take a lot of time and money to make, and then consume a lot of audience time and money. The hundreds of talented people and thousands of hours and millions of dollars that go into creating any feature film can just as easily be employed to make a good movie as they can to make a bad one.
And what makes this a bad one? It is lying to its audience. It would rather show us a tepid fantasy, where Tess is left with the golden memory of her late lover, than show them trying to figure out how to carry their love beyond one weekend and a few letters. Worst of all, the film ends with Tess telling her teenage daughter all about her ideal love, indoctrinating her with the same bullshit. It reminded me of a quote from the Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko, which I first saw in reference to the excellent novels of Robert Cormier:
Telling lies to the young is wrong.
Proving to them that lies are true is wrong.
Telling them that God’s in his heaven and all’s well with the world is wrong.
The young know what you mean. The young are people.
Tell them the difficulties can’t be counted and let them see not only what will be
but see with clarity these present times.
Say obstacles exist they must encounter, sorrow happens, hardship happens.
The hell with it. Who never knew the price of happiness will not be happy.
Crowd reaction at end of movie: soft weeping (not from me).
Credit cookie?: no.
For further consideration: could we please get David Lynch to write and direct the next Sparks adaptation?
Opening next week: High School Musical 3, Changeling, Saw V, Passengers, Pride and Glory
Please god, anything but: High School Musical 3.