Making the Grades
Adrienne Willis (Diane Lane) may not be the first 40-something woman to fantasize about a romantic escape with a handsome stranger. But that is still hardly what she is expecting when she agrees to run her best friend's (Viola Davis) bed and breakfast for a weekend.
With only one room booked, she plans on a quiet getaway to think about the mess her life is in. Separated for several months following her husband's dalliance with a younger woman, Adrienne is struggling with a rebellious teenaged daughter (Mae Whitman), a withdrawn son (Charlie Tahan) and Jack's (Christopher Meloni) pleas for forgiveness so they can attempt to rebuild their marriage.
Instead of deliberating on her future, however, she soon finds herself swooning over the attractive doctor that arrives for a stormy stay at the aging oceanfront property. Equally consumed with the problems of fractured families, Adrienne and Paul (Richard Gere) confide their troubles to one another over drinks with dinner. Their commiseration initiates an instant intimacy and, after the rains of an impending hurricane drive them inside the shuttered cabin, this married woman quickly shares her bed with the man she just met.
While the consummation of their newly formed friendship provides for some steamy film footage, it does nothing to resolve the dilemmas they both face. Fortunately for Richard Gere fans who want to see his character end up with the woman, the filmmakers do little to develop the role of Adrienne's unfaithful husband. Jack's secondary presence and a dearth of details about his past make it hard to sympathize with him and easier to dismiss his attempts to fix his mistakes in their marriage. Even the kid's tearful petitions for their mother to forgive their father become negligible factors as Adrienne throws herself at the divorced surgeon.
Although happily married couples and content children in this movie are as rare as snow on this North Carolina beach, social drinking -- including a scene of drunkenness -- and profanities are plentiful. The impact of grief is also explored as several characters deal with an unexpected death and other personal losses.
While the theme of escapism in this film might seem like a dream come true for viewers bogged down in the challenges of parenting, work and the ups and downs of an everyday marriage, this whirlwind weekend romance on a starry Rodanthe night sends a misleading "two wrongs make a right" message and conveniently eclipses the realities of a new day.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Nights in Rodanthe.
Why is the man who lost his wife in the hospital eager to talk to the doctor? How did his relationship with his spouse differ from that of the other couples in this story?
Although Adrienne wants to be a good mother, what impact might that desire have had on her marriage? How does the film keep audiences from bonding with Jack? Does the film offer any justification for Adrienne’s refusal to attempt to reconcile their differences?
While the romance between Paul and Adrienne is shown in a positive light, what problems from their pasts might resurface in a new union? What impact may Adrienne’s decision have on her children and her unfaithful husband?