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Romance of 'Nights in Rodanthe' falls short

Anyone who knows my tastes in film knows that I dearly love Diane Lane. There are few movies out there that I won't sit through to watch her act.

However, there's quite a few that I won't sit through again. "Nights at Rodanthe" falls in this category.

This is her re-teaming with Richard Gere in a romance rather than an adulterous story. Lane plays Adrienne, a separated single mother who is struggling to raise her children. One weekend, she helps a friend who runs a bed and breakfast for a single guest, a mysterious doctor named Paul Flanner (Richard Gere). During his stay, a hurricane bears down on the bed and breakfast, providing a perilous backdrop for the two to fall in love.

While the acting was decent -- even by Richard Gere -- the film had its problems. The reason for Paul to come to the bed and breakfast is horrendously thin, and doesn't make much sense from a legal standpoint. Additionally, the characters were spineless and weak-willed... and they really don't change much over the course of the plot.

Adrienne's relationship with her children is both angst-filled and unrelatable. Her separated husband is trying to make amends, and she has an awful time sticking to her guns with her decisions. Likewise, the character of Paul is so tortured from his past that it's nerve-grating to watch.

The film is riddled with awkward flashbacks to Paul's past, which fit into the style of the film as much as a Nine Inch Nails music video would fit in a Jane Austin miniseries. Add the wooden acting of James Franco as Paul's son to the mix and you get a sloppy, uneven movie.

"Nights at Rodanthe" is written by Nicholas Sparks, who gave us "The Notebook" and "Message in a Bottle." I haven't seen either of these films, and being a guy, I don't plan on seeing them anytime soon. However, after watching trailers and some footage from them, it looks like "Nights at Rodanthe" covers the same ground -- wayward souls brought together by deep love.

You have to understand something about myself. I'm a cynical S.O.B. There is room for some sentimentality and romance in my life, but the flowery thickness of suburban housewives' book club selection is not my cup of tea. However, at the screening I attended, the audience truly loved this film. They were weeping, gasping and swept up in the story. I, on the other hand, just rolled my eyes and kept looking at my watch.

So, I imagine that the Nicholas Sparks fan base is going to eat this movie up. However, for myself, it was one of the most boring movies of the year.

Kevin Carr is an independent writer, journalist and filmmaker who lives in Columbus, Ohio.