Monday, March 9, 2009

NIGHTS IN RODANTHE (Now playing in front of your filthy beer stained sofa)

Richard Gere and Diane Lane are together again in this romantic drama based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks. Gere is a surgeon who needs to face the family of a woman who died unexpectantly on his operating table. Lane is a mother of two who's trying to decide whether to reunite with her estranged husband.

They meet at a remote bed and breakfast on the North Carolina coast, where each has presumably come to do some soul searching. But they're the only two people in the place, so the get drunk together. What do YOU think is going to happen? (The same thing that's going to happen with ANY random couple in the same situation--even if they have to put bags over each others' heads!) Yet, this supposedly is the formula for the start of a once in a lifetime romance.

Before I saw it, I'd heard that the movie has a crappy ending. That's why I waited for the DVD. Who wants to pay full theatre prices for a crappy ending? But, with an overly melodramatic plot, and unconvincing performances from the two stars, (in the bedroom scene, Lane looks about as turned on as if she were kissing her dog) the disappointment had set in long before the ending. And oh yeah--see if you don't think Richard Gere is looking more and more like Donald Trump with better hair.

Nights in Rodanthe does convey one inspiring message: Don't settle for less when you can (or think you can) have it all.



In a film set in postwar Germany, Kate Winslett bares her soul--and a lot more--in her Oscar winning performance as Hanna Schmitz, an ex-nazi concentration camp guard whose past comes back to bite her on the butt--which, by the way, is quite comely. Trying to do great acting with one's clothes off must just add to the pressure, and I think the academy voters must have recognized this. Either that or most of them were guys.

Hanna, a decidedly amoral character--not only for what she did at the camps but for her rationalizations about it much later--is in her mid thirties when she has an affair with 15 year old Michael Berg, a future law student who serendipitously becomes an observer when she later goes on trial for her past deeds. Michael has secret information that could make things go better for her, but will he reveal it to the judge? That's what you pay your inflated admission and popcorn prices to find out, buckaroo!

Lena Olin, a fine, underrated and underemployed actress who could carry a lot of films herself, has a small part near the end. And the late Sydney Pollack--a truly great, and, I think, underrated director, has his stamp on this one as co-producer.

The theme of The Reader is one that each of us has lived at some time or another: The conflict within ourselves to act out of conscience or out of fear.