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Fathers and Daughters:
In Their Own Words
by Mariana Cook
(Discounted Paperback from Amazon)
. "Nights In Rodanthe"

This might be the year of reunions for acting pairs with history. In the same year that Leonardo DiCaprio gets back with Kate Winslet for the first time since their all-time boxoffice triumph in "Titanic" with a littler film called "Revolutionary Road," Richard Gere and Diane Lane pull off a similarly nostalgic re-casting union (for the third go) in this low-budget romance. Hey, no one's getting younger, so do it while you can!

In fact, Gere and Lane's biggest challenge might well be to get us involved in a mature relationship pic, but they do it in a way that will quell its contrived nature for sentimentalists but not for a more demanding audience. George C. Wolfe's directed from Ann Peacock's and John Romano's angst-filled script. While it may be discerned as more a vehicle for the actors' reunion than a creative gem, the contributive factor to its attractiveness is the excellence of the match, which inspires the benefit of the doubt and tips it into positive territory.

Adrienne Willis (Lane) is a striving mother with two children and an ex-husband (Christopher Meloni) who left them for another woman and now wants back--desperately. Her little tyke Danny (Charlie Tahan) thinks his mom can do no wront no matter what she does while her teener daughter Mae is in hate mode unless she takes dad back.

On a weekend when the kids are with their father, Adrienne helps a friend by taking over the management of an isolated, windswept beach inn on the off-season. The only lodger for whom she does maid's work and cooks meals is still-very-handsome Dr. Paul Flanner (Gere) who is distraught over something he's not revealing yet. The decks here are stacked with parallels in the two people's lives (like availability) to discover and as a means to sell the emotional attachment that is this couple's destiny.

You don't need to see the movie to know its predictability. Little guesswork is required to anticipate the story arc but writers and director exercise care and judgement in forestalling the obvious in order to build the requisite character depth and pay it off as more than a superficial exercise.

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Sentimentalists will give such thoughts no mind and will buy into the emotional line without question as the pros take them on their journey. Lane is in a role in which she employs what one might guess is her wonderfully natural personality and feisty spirit. Gere's looks makes the chemistry a no-brainer as the duo mines the ease they have with each other and the reunionizing material at hand.

Viola Davis plays Vivienne's best friend with suitable vivacity; while Scott Glenn is the second heavy (after Meloni) as the reason for Dr. Flanner's visit to Rodanthe after the loss of a patient, grieving Torrelson's wife. Like said, complexity.

A big reward is Emmylou Harris' title song over end credits, which the beyond-country balladeer wrote as well as sings--a haunting melody in the evocative style of her "Red Dirt Woman" album.

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                                      ~~  Jules Brenner  


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Richard Gere and Diane Lane
One more picture together and it'll be a marriage.

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