Nights in Rodanthe
Directed By: George C. Wolfe
Starring: Richard Gere, Diane Lane, Christopher Meloni, Viola Davis, Mae Whitman, Scott Glenn
Diane Lane plays Adrienne Willis, who we meet as she is preparing her kids for an extended stay with their estranged father, Jack (Meloni). When he arrives to pick up his children, Jack, who left Adrienne seven months earlier for another woman, surprises her by announcing his desire to reconcile. Adrienne asks for time to think about it as she is preparing to head to the island community of Rodanthe, North Carolina to attend to an Inn owned by her best friend, Jean (Davis). The sole late-season guest at the Inn is Dr. Paul Flanner, who is troubled by personal and professional failings that are revealed as the film progresses. A hurricane eventually brings these two troubled adults together, offering them a second chance at love if they can reconcile it with their commitments to their families.
Far be it from me to suggest that if you have seen one Nicholas Sparks film adaptation you have seen them all, but viewers familiar with "The Notebook", "A Walk to Remember", and "Message in a Bottle" will not likely be surprised by anything they see in this film. The conflicts and themes remain largely the same with the plot and characters slightly modulated and the names and locations changed for the sake of variety.
With so much familiarity built into the story, director George C. Wolfe tries to distinguish this adaptation by exploiting the Outer Banks, North Carolina locations for every bit of production value they can offer. Diane Lane and Richard Gere do their fair share by delivering excellent performances which add a layer of believability to their characters that help to gloss over some of the more fantastical plot contrivances, most notably the way their courtship comes to a head. The previous sentence was a big step for me because I have long been unable to grasp the appeal of Richard Gere as an actor. In this case, I can say without hesitation that it is the most convincing (i.e. least stiff) performance I have seen from him.
Unfortunately, the screenplay lays on certain elements way too thick and Wolfe makes the poor choice of visually and editorially amplifying rather than muting them. In case the viewer fails to grasp the metaphorical significance of a raging storm or a stampede of wild horses, they will be triple underlined and highlighted by unnecessarily protracted sequences accompanied by swelling score and multiple cuts to emotional reactions.
The supporting cast, including such notable actors as Scott Glenn and Christopher Meloni, is somewhat underutilized, and the one secondary character who actually experiences a significant emotional arc, Mae Whitman as Adrienne's daughter, Amanda, moves unconvincingly from a screeching antisocial harpy to a teary-eyed sympathetic hugger too suddenly to be convincing.
The film is presented on disc in a 16:9 enhanced transfer that matches its theatrical aspect ratio of 2.4:1. It is also presented on the flip side of the disc in a 4:3 reformatted presentation which I did not review. The widescreen presentation is one of the better Warner SD transfers I have seen in the past several months. It has excellent color and contrast, strong detail, and is largely free of any significant digital video artifacts. I noticed what looked like some mild ringing along high contrast edges in exactly one shot. Fans of the film will not be disappointed by this excellent transfer.
The English Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track presents the theatrical mix with outstanding fidelity. The mix has a wide stereo soundstage across the three front channels. The LFE and surround channels are not used for most of the film's running time, but they do come significantly into play for a couple of key storm sequences. Dolby Digital 5.1 French and Spanish dubs are also provided as alternate tracks.
Other than some skippable promotional spots and PSAs that play when the disc is first loaded, there are no extras whatsoever on this disc.
The double-sided single-layered DVD-10 disc is packaged in an Amaray-style case with the theatrical widescreen and 4:3 reformatted presentations of the film on opposite sides. The only insert is a sheet offering users a code to acquire a reduced price Windows Media digital copy of the film from the CinemaNow web site.
Despite strong performances from lead actors Richard Gere and Diane Lane and some beautiful location photography, this adaptation of Nicholas Sparks' Nights in Rodanthe is a disappointingly conventional and oversold tale of adults getting a second chance at love. It is presented on disc with an outstanding audio and video presentation, but no extras.