Starring: Richard Gere, Diane Lane, Viola Davis
Directed by: George C. Wolfe (debut)
Written by: Ann Peacock (“Kit Kittredge: An American Girl”) and John Romano (“The Third Miracle”)

No need to call FEMA when a hurricane hits Richard Gere and Diane Lane in “Nights in Rodanthe.” There’s so much damage done even before the storm comes in, the undeniable chemistry between the two can’t pull it out of its shallow pool of triteness.

Adapted from the book by Nicholas Sparks (“The Notebook”), “Nights” brings two complete strangers, Dr. Paul Flanner (Gere) and Adrienne Willis (Lane), together for a passionate weekend lodged in an oceanfront inn.

Helping her friend rent out rooms at her North Carolina beach house while she is away, Adrienne’s only guest during her hurricane-filled vacation in is Paul, who has made the trip from the big city to sulk over the death of a patient he lost during a standard plastic surgery procedure. He is also there to visit the woman’s family to explain to them what went wrong.

Despite being the only shoulder to cry on, Adrienne might not be the right person to lend out emotional support (she’s making some life-changing decisions and thinking about whether or not to take back her cheating ex-husband). Leave it to bottles of wine and the harsh winds of the hurricane, however, to produce manufactured romance as flimsily written as daytime soaps.

Put most of the blame on the dialogue, which will ultimately lead our leading man and woman into the bedroom. In “Nights,” it flows out in all its cliché glory. When Paul asks Adrienne formulaic questions like “Who keeps you safe?” “What are you so afraid of” and “Do you even remember who you are anymore?” it becomes harder and harder to understand why people fall for these overly schmaltzy and dull cinematic relationships.

Maybe two people could really fall in love with each other over the span of a few days like Paul and Adrienne, but why pour on the sentimentality so blatantly? Why resort to sappy exchanges and forced moments of bliss? I like a good cry as much as the next person, but why not pull my heartstrings through a natural progression of romanticism?

Movies like “Nights in Rodanthe” are to the romance genre what torture porn is to horror. It might fill a need, but why dumb down the story for a cheap reaction from the audience? While one gets screams and the other gets tears, it’s all the same artificial moments that make films like this so unwatchable.

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