Of course Richard Gere is going to fall in love with Diane Lane in this movie. How could he resist her and why would he try? Certainly the audience will fall in love with her, too. There is no actress who conveys so much with so little. The subtlety and complexity of her performances is one of the wonders of cinema. Close-ups were invented for Lane’s rare beauty, inside and out. We feel that it is her spirit as an actress and a character illuminating this story.
And we cannot help but feel a sense of completion in seeing the two of them together, after two previous films that showed their palpable connection. This film, based on the book by chronicler of the grown-up romance Nicholas Sparks (The Notebook, Message in a Bottle) puts their relationship center stage. Lane is Adrienne, a devoted single mother who is watching her best friend’s bed and breakfast for a weekend. Gere is Paul, the only guest. Adrienne’s husband, who left her for another woman, wants to come back home. Paul has come to the Outer Banks of North Carolina not to enjoy the coast but to have a conversation with someone who feels damaged by him. A storm hits the coast and (metaphor alert) Paul and Adrienne shore up the inn as they begin to open up to each other.
It is lovely to see a mature romance and this one is beautifully played by Gere and Lane, with Scott Glenn as a widower whose story provides poignant counterpoint. Viola Davis is superb as always in the thinly written role of the best friend, Christopher Meloni is fine as Adrienne’s maddening ex-husband, and an unbilled James Franco makes the most of his brief appearance as Paul’s doctor son. But it is Lane who simple honesty and luminous spirit keep us watching and believing that some day we, too, might find love and meaning and forgiveness on a stormy night in Rodanthe.