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Nights in Rodanthe (2008)

Warner Home Video
DVD Released: 2/10/2009

All Ratings out of
Movie: 1/2
Video: 1/2
Extras: No Extras on DVD ( 1/2 on Blu-ray Disc)

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 2/7/2009

After over 50 years and dozens of movies, Godzilla films have taken the character just as far as possible. He's stomped Tokyo, fought King Kong, and made an ill-fated journey to New York City. So, I guess that it's not surprising that someone would make a romance where Godzilla shacks up with one of his former enemies. The Nights in Rodan may be in poor taste, but I think that it's a bold step forward for monsters everywhere in its portrayal of...hold on. I erroneously had the title listed as "Nights in Rodan, The". This movie is actually called Nights in Rodanthe. Well, that is different.

Nights in Rodanthe introduces us to Adrienne Willis (Diane Lane), a woman who has been having a difficult time as of late. She's still getting over the death of her father, and she and her husband, Jack (Christopher Meloni), are separated due to the fact that he cheated on her. Now, Jack has asked Adrienne to take him back. She needs time to think this over. When Jack takes the kids (Mae Whitman & Charlie Tahan) for a week, Adrienne ventures to Rodanthe, an area in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. There, her friend, Jean (Viola Davis), runs a sea-side inn. (Actually, it's in the ocean.) As it's nearly hurricane season, Jean has no guests and has scheduled a vacation of her own. This is fine with Adrienne, as she wants time to think. When there's a last-minute reservation, Adrienne agrees to watch the inn for Jean. Dr. Paul Flanner (Richard Gere) arrives at the inn. He has come to the coast to face an issue which has threatened his professional career. At first, the two are simply inn-keeper and guest, but as they are alone together, they start to take meals together and talk. An immediate attraction occurs. Are they simply too lost souls looking for a shoulder to cry on, or is it more?

I'm a sucker for a good romantic comedy, but I rarely watch movies which are simply "romances". So, I'm not sure if Nights in Rodanthe fits the mold of a typical romance. The movie presents a somewhat complicated plot, with the different characters and their issues, but at the same time, the story never gets over complex or presents any shocking twists. In fact, as someone who doesn't watch romances, I was surprised by how much I wasn't surprised. I knew from the trailer that Lane and Gere come together at an inn on the beach, and I was able to guess that there would be some sort of relationship. But, I had assumed that the second half of the film would provide some sort of bombshell, but the film's one big twist is pretty easy to see coming. Actually, the most surprising part of the movie was the brevity of the film. The story comes from a 240-page novel by Nicholas Sparks, and apparently the movie's 97-minute running time mirrors the length of the book (save for the fact that the book is told as a flashback).

Actually, the above isn't necessarily true. I was surprised by one part of the movie. Again, I knew that there would be some sort of intimacy between Adrienne and Paul, but I didn't expect them to fall in love after spending one night together. This goes beyond love at first sight -- they are literally knee-deep in love soulmates after only a few days of knowing each other and attended one lobster-boil/hoedown. Is that common for this sort of film? Is that what women are looking for? For me, this knocked me out of the story as it suddenly made the film unbelievable. Could an innocent flirtation between two lonely people suddenly burst into love? I guess, but the speed with which it happens here feels very forced.

But, if you can swallow that, there are a few things to like about Nights in Rodanthe. Having worked together before, Lane and Gere are clearly comfortable together. While their character's actions may not feel genuine, their performances do. The movie also gets a boost from its good supporting cast. In addition to the actors mentioned above, we also get small parts from Scott Glenn, James Franco, and Mae Whitman. Director George C. Wolfe also wisely treats us to many landscape shots which show off the beautiful North Carolina coast. Although, to be honest, I really expected the inn to be underwater by the end of the film.

Nights in Rodanthe is a very unbalanced movie. On the one hand, you have award-winning actors and the expense of filming the in the locations where the book was actually set. On the other, you have a story which would seem hackneyed on the Lifetime Network. Fans of romances will no doubt find something to like about the movie, but if you're looking for something groundbreaking, I suggest you spend the night elsewhere.

Nights in Rodanthe sits amongst the waves on DVD courtesy of Warner Home Video. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is sharp and clear, showing no grain and no defects from the source material. The colors look very good and the image is never too dark or bright. I noted some video noise on the inn's shutters, but otherwise the image is stable. The DVD has Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are fine (most notably when they are on the beach) and the surround and bass effects come into play during the storm scene.

There are no extra features on the DVD.

Warner Home Video has also brought Nights in Rodanthe to Blu-ray Disc. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains a VC-1 1080p HD transfer which runs an at average of 15 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear here, showing no grain and no defects from the source material. The colors look fantastic. Actually, I rarely notice costuming in films, but Diane Lane only wears ocean colors here and the crisp transfer really makes this stand out. The image shows very good depth and detail, and no video noise as seen on the DVD. The Disc has a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and a constant 640 kbps. So, this is the same track which was featured on the DVD. Again, nice stereo at times and the hurricane scene provides notably good surround and subwoofer effects. But, why not put HD sound on a Disc which features such a nice video transfer?

The Nights in Rodanthe Blu-ray Disc contains a few extras. "The Nature of Love" (21 minutes) is a making-of featurette which offers comments from Director George C. Wolfe, Gere, Lane, author Nicholas Sparks, and Emmylou Harris. The piece looks at the characters, the location, the story, and the music. But, it feels as if there are more clips from the movie than interviews. This probably could have been done in half the time if the clips were removed. "In Rodanthe: An Intimate Look at Nights in Rodanthe with Singer/Songwriter Emmylou Harris" (12 minutes) is an interview with the musician in which she describes how she approached the task of writing a song for the film. (She's interviewed by Wolfe.) The Disc contains five ADDITIONAL SCENES which run about 7 minutes and feature commentary by Wolfe. In fact, Wolfe talks over three of the five scenes, and only one feels like a true deleted scene. In "A Time for Love: Keeping Up with Nicholas Sparks" (11 minutes), the author talks about his routine (with writing and being a track coach), his life, and how he writes. The final extra is the MUSIC VIDEO for "Love Remains the Same" by Gavin Rossdale.

Review Copyright 2009 by Mike Long