GENRE: Midlife romance
THE PITCH: Single mom Adrienne (Diane Lane) considers reconciling with her estranged husband, Jack (Christopher Meloni), while sharing a coastal Carolina bed-and-breakfast with Paul (Richard Gere), a testy plastic surgeon shaken by personal problems. Will the threat of a hurricane — and The Notebook author Nicholas Sparks — bring these lost souls together?
MONEY SHOTS: An aerial flyover of the storybook beachside hotel qualifies as real-estate porn. The logy flirtation turns suspenseful when gale-force winds strike the hotel. Lane commands a long, soundless, tear-jerking close-up that gives the film some overdue emotional punch.
BEST LINE: "Jack get tired with Miss Flip-Curl he was reptilin' around with?" asks Adrienne's sassy best pal (Viola Davis), who conveniently asks Adrienne to run the hotel when Paul's the only guest.
WORST LINE: "I have a ferry to catch and I only have two hands. One, two," Adrienne gripes to her troublesome kids in a frantic early scene. Adrienne also has a Hallmark Card-worthy speech about the "two kinds of love" late in the film.
FLESH FACTOR: A couple lounges in bed at dawn and shows little more than their morning-after shoulders. The film's sex scenes primarily amount to tight, discrete shots of dresses unzipped and fingers reaching into unbuttoned shirts.
FASHION STATEMENTS: Adrienne clearly has a deep closet filled with plush sweaters with sashes and colorful wraps for draping across her shoulders during the inevitable strolls on the sand.
MP3-TO-BE: Emmylou Harris maps the film's location with the rollicking duet "Way Down in North Carolina" with Lauren Pritchard and the more mellow tones of "In Rodanthe." (FYI, it's pronounced "Rodan-thé.")
PRODUCT PLACEMENT: Someone mentions Budweiser by name, and it's the beverage of choice at a "Rodanthe-style crab crack" hoedown. A billboard provides local color by announcing "I got my crabs from Dirty Dicks." In general the North Carolina Travel and Tourism Board will be very pleased.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Reuniting after the acclaimed pairing in Unfaithful, Lane and Gere again make an attractive screen couple, and Rodanthe will appeal to the audiences looking for middle-aged romantic escapism along the lines of The Bridges of Madison County. Famed theatrical director George C. Wolfe only offers a workmanlike cinematic debut that never transcends the tame, poky material.