Directed by: George C. Wolfe
Starring: Diane Lane, Richard Gere
Released: September 26, 2008
Nights in Rodanthe is written to be one of the “second chance at love” stories that middle-aged women across the world may dream about, especially with Richard Gere as the romantic hero. While the movie vaguely misses the mark, the book doesn’t even come close.
Sparks uses a formulaic approach to the love story; love coming into the lives of 2 people unexpectedly, distance forces the two lovers apart, and finally, the enduring quality of love. The simple story can appeal to those who are looking for a quick read; or who want to truly engage their imagination to give depth to the characters.
Our novel opens 14 years after the story takes place, when Adrienne, our heroine is 60. She decides to tell the story of the love that spanned a few days in Rodanthe in an attempt to help her grieving daughter. The actual book only takes a day (When Adrienne tells the story), but the story itself could be said to span a full the full 14 years.
In sharp contrast, the movie only focuses on the immediate time around Adrienne and Paul’s meeting in Rodanthe, and Paul’s trip to Ecuador. While Adrienne still shares her story with her daughter, it’s days or weeks after Paul’s death, not a decade later.
Where the book leaves off (character depth, emotional involvement), the movie picks up. There are a few differences between the story that Sparks has committed to paper, and the film that George C. Wolfe directed, but overall the core love story between Adrienne and Paul remains virtually unchanged. They meet. They dine (and wine, and whine). They love. Life separates them.
Much more time in the movie is dedicated to the time that Paul (Richard Gere) spends in Ecuador with his son, and the letters that he wrote back to Adrienne. This back-and-forth conversation via letters helps give additional depth to their relationship and emotional commitment to each other.
The storm is a central theme in both the book and the movie, as it forces Adrienne and Paul together, alone at the bed and breakfast. The film uses the brewing storm to create a higher sense of drama, including Paul saving Adrienne from a falling china cabinet. Of course, she falls directly into his arms.
In general, the storm parallels the emotions brewing in the hearts of Adrienne and Paul. While the book provides them with an instant rapport, the relationship between them is more turbulent in the movie. Adrienne is still debating her impending divorce; Paul isn’t sure he’s ready to open up to someone, but he’s sure that he’ doesn’t want to be alone. They fumble toward each other while the storm outside rages.
Overall, I can’t vote in favor of either this book or this film. If forced to choose one, I suppose the movie would be the lesser of the two evils. At least on-screen I felt something when we lost Paul; in the book it was just a relief knowing that the bland pages were almost over.