Plot summary (with possible spoilers): Adrienne Willis (played by Diane Lane) has recently separated from her husband Jack (Christopher Meloni), and is trying to keep things together for teenage daughter Amanda (Mae Whitman) and 12-year-old Danny (Charlie Tahan). The situation gets more complicated when Jack tells Adrienne he wants to get back together. Adrienne isn’t sure she’s ready for that, and holds Jack off by saying she needs some time to think about everything.
Adrienne gets the perfect opportunity when she agrees to spend 5 days in the small town of Rodanthe in North Carolina. Her friend Jean (Viola Davis) thought needed some help, so she asked Adrienne to come and run her small bed & breakfast for a few days. Since it’s the off-season, there will only be one guest, which should be easy enough for Adrienne to handle.
The guest turns out to be plastic surgeon Paul Flanner, who also is going through some messy personal issues of his own. At first the two seem quite different from each other, and though there’s a glimmer of physical attraction, their lives and personalities are just so different. But as they get to know each other over coffee and dinner, their mutual attraction grows, especially when they open up about personal subjects. Soon, a major hurricane traps them in the B&B together, essentially sealing their fate as they both fall in love.
After spending a memorable five days together, Paul drops a bombshell: he must go away to Ecuador to work on a Doctors Without Borders project in order to patch up his relationship with his son Mark (James Franco). Though devastated, Adrienne understands why he must leave and promises to wait for him. Paul will return soon, he says, and then they can pick up where they left off.
During this separation, Paul and Adrienne begin to exchange love letters. This correspondence serves to solidify their belief that they’re meant to be together, and neither one can wait to embark on the next stage in their relationship. But fate intervenes, leaving them with nothing but good memories.
My Reaction: I actually read the Nicholas Sparks novel prior to seeing this film, so I understood a lot more about the characters than was revealed during the course of the movie’s running time. Though there were significant changes from the original, I thought the changes worked. For instance, I liked that the movie was told in the present instead of the flashbacks that Sparks chose for the book. And I liked that Adrienne’s relationship with her husband was a lot more ambiguous in the film, rather than just being divorced altogether as in the original.
Anyway, when I read the book, I was highly skeptical of these two people being able to fall in love over the course of five short days, but somehow, it worked in the movie. I could believe that Paul and Adrienne had strong feelings for each other and were looking forward to spending the rest of their lives together. I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say that being with Adrienne for that short period actually changed Paul so drastically (as his son implied), but I could believe that they fell in love.
Overall, this was an above-average romance that was better than I expected it to be. It clips right along with very few extraneous scenes, and the main characters are likable enough. In fact, I enjoyed seeing “older” (in Hollywood terms) actors as the leads in a romance for once. The 45-year-old Diane Lane looks as though she’s been keeping up with prevera reviews, because her face was flawless. And Richard Gere looked good as well. This film version of Nights in Rodanthe was much better than the book, and I give it 4 stars out of 5.