Richard Gere plays a doctor. He has to you see, because a dentist, physical therapist, or any other healthcare profession would not fit with where Nights in Rodanthe is going to go. “Doctor” is a simple way of saying “perfect man” in these hilariously manipulative weepy dramas.
Diane Lane is the victim of a husband who didn’t love her. Her emotions are running high when he tries to re-enter her life. It has to be this way, because “possible divorcee” leaves her wide open to swept off her feet by the “perfect man” on a beach in the middle of nowhere.
It gets worse though. A hurricane is approaching, foreshadowed unbearably and repeatedly. Will Diane Lane need comforting from the only man available to her? Will they find each other inseparable? Will sparks fly even though they only met over a short weekend and go through more drama than the average married couple would over 20-years?
If you answered yes to all three, then you are probably in the demographic that does not need to bother with this farce, which will be completely spoiled in the following paragraphs. You have been warned.
Adapted from the Nicholas Sparks novel, you have to give the writers credit for an imaginative ending, even if its sole purpose is to elicit a stream of tears. Gere’s “perfect man” heads to a poor foreign country to save sick children and reconnect with his own son. While trying to save precious medical supplies during a storm, he is swept away in a mudslide, leaving “possible divorcee” to cry endlessly.
All is taken care of though, as Lane witnesses a rare species of wild horses running down the beach, significant only because “perfect man” mentioned it before he left. See, it’s supposed to a happy ending, but carries just enough emotional weight to call forth a few more tears. You have to be sure everyone gets their money’s worth.
There is one funny scene in Nights in Rodanthe, that of Richard Gere battling a broken faucet to get some hot water. It is the closest this film comes to depicting actual human behavior. In fact, that faucet and Gere have more chemistry on-screen than the intended couple.
George C. Wolfe’s film adaptation is incredibly flat, and this weak encode does not seem to help either. Initial shots are wholly digital, lacking any film-like qualities. In fact, that is a distinct problem for the entirety: the grain structure is nearly absent. While there does not seem to be any significant manipulation at work, faces and environments appear soft. There is a distinct smooth nature to the proceedings, as if the texture is being hidden and not allowed to breathe.
Black levels are also flat. The image struggles to establish depth, leaving colors natural, if not a bit faded. Flesh tones appear a bit pasty. The beachside environment is of course gorgeous, although making something like this ugly would take quite a bit of work. Still, there is little question it lacks refinement. Gere’s initial drive into Rodanthe produces some fine visuals, including numerous long shots of a variety of locales.
Stand out moments are few. A scene of Lane preparing dinner in the kitchen, around 15-minutes in, showcases a detailed environment along with a bit of color depth missing elsewhere. Some close-ups can offer marginally delineated facial pores, but nothing near the level of reference.
Warner skimps on hi-def audio, sticking a paltry Dolby Digital track onto the disc. Immediately apparent is the flatness of the music. Vocals seem muted and notes sound compressed. A limited amount of bleed is apparent.
The hurricane is a highlight, even without a next-gen codec. The bass here is surprisingly strong, providing a fine rumble with minimal distortion. Rain whips around, and snaps against windows. Even prior to the storm, thunder off in the distance provides a nice level of ambiance.
A party post-storm offers up some additional ambiance, but not much directionality. Gere and Lane walk out of the party onto a pier, where clapping and music can be heard in the right rear speaker. An edit briefly cuts back to the band, then to Gere and Lane again. In that edit, the band is suddenly heard in the right front, which makes no sense.
Nature of Love kick starts the special features, a 21-minute making-of with interviews from the actors, author, and crew. In Rodanthe is an interview with songwriter Emmylou Harris who wrote the main theme. Five deleted scenes have an explanation from director George C. Wolfe while they play.
A Time for Love is a piece on the book’s author Nicholas Sparks. A music video is followed by Warner’s usual BD-Live support.