The Films of Diane Lane and Richard Gere
Throughout her career, the lovely Diane Lane has starred opposite of some of the most recognizable faces in Hollywood, from Laurence Olivier to the likes of John Cusack, Donald Sutherland, Bill Paxton, and Dermot Mulroney. But the one actor she has starred most often with is Richard Gere. They have made 3 movies together; The Cotton Club in 1984, Unfaithful in 2002, and an adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks novel, Nights in Rodanthe, in 2008.
The Cotton Club (1984)
Cornet player Dixie Dwyer (Gere) finds himself working for a group of mobsters who run one of the hottest clubs in Harlem, The Cotton Club. While working for gangland mobster Dutch Schultz, Dixie finds himself falling for his boss's regular squeeze, Vera Cicero (Diane Lane).
This should have been be a great movie. Mario Puzo helped in writing the story, Francis Ford Coppola directed it, and the list of stars appearing is dazzling. The cast includes Gregory Hines, Nicolas Cage, and Fred Gwynne. Unfortunately, the movie ended up becoming rather messy as it went through various rewrites. This eventually resulted in a film with too many characters, too many subplots, and none of it coherently mixing together.
The film actually starts out quite nicely. It stylishly recreates a bygone era as it introduces us to Dixie Dwyer, Dutch Schultz, and Vera Cicero. It has a nice rhythm and energy to it that grabs your attention. It then ruins it by jumping to another set of characters as the story takes on a different pace. This jumping between characters and stories basically continues throughout the movie. They all interweave thanks to the Harlem nightclub but it all comes together in a confusing manner.
The Cotton Club does not seem sure on whether it wants to be a musical or not. There are some great musical moments but there are not enough to make the film play out like a musical. Some of these numbers are jarring on the storyline, almost as much as the constant changing between characters.
The good thing is that both Lane and Gere put in solid and enjoyable performances. Gere looks very much at home as a 1920s musician and the chemistry between the two leads is perfect.
Connie Summer (Lane) is a happy housewife. Her husband Edward (Gere) runs a successful business and they live in a perfect house with their son Charlie. That is until a trip into the city where she bumps into a charismatic book buyer named Paul. It doesn't take long for this sexy French man to charm her into his bed. But their passionate affair becomes an obsession for Connie that carries disastrous consequences.
Out of these three movies, Unfaithful is probably the most popular. It may have something to do with the incredibly steamy sex scenes. While this erotic thriller delivers on the eroticism, it unfortunately struggles when it comes to be thrilling. At least once you get past the various sex scenes. The second half of the movie struggles to deliver the tension and atmosphere you expect from a thriller.
The film starts out quite brilliantly as it sets up the seemingly perfect life of Connie Summer and her loving husband. It is quite surprising when she embarks on having an affair. While the nudity and sex scenes are spectacularly steamy, they never feel like soft porn. They are artistically shot, almost romantic in styling. There is a raw, brutal passion in them which make these scenes mesmerizing.
The second part of the movie where Edward becomes suspicious loses momentum and struggles to deliver the right tension. This is not helped by the fact that Gere's character is a bit part and is quite two-dimensional. Thankfully, Lane's performance as Connie is spectacular, showing the awakening of a woman brought to life by her steamy love life.
Nights in Rodanthe (2008)
Struggling with an argumentative teenager and an estranged husband who wants to be part of her life again, Adrienne Willis (Lane) heads to the North Carolina town of Rodanthe to look after her friend's bed and breakfast. Hoping that the peace and quiet will help her sort out her feelings, she strikes up a friendship with Dr. Paul Flanner (Gere), who is the only guest at the inn and who is also there to sort out issues in his life. As a storm closes in, Adrienne and Paul find themselves becoming closer, developing a relationship that will change their lives forever.
Many critics didn't like Nights in Rodanthe. The consensus was that it was too manufactured and a poor adaptation of a Nicolas Sparks novel. I absolutely loved it. I enjoyed how 90% of the movie gently builds up this relationship between Adrienne and Paul, almost ignoring every other subplot. I love the impressive locations and the huge emotional twists that can leave you reeling. If you've seen any other adaptations of Nicholas Sparks novels such as Message in a Bottle, A Walk to Remember, and of course The Notebook, you know that things are never as simple as they seem.
What I like the most is that there is such a relaxed nature between the characters of Adrienne and Paul. I put this down to Lane and Gere being so comfortable working together. You warm up to each of them and their relationship, happy that each has found something special. This movie is certainly for romantics who can ignore any weaknesses in the narrative or the solidity of the characters. It is for folks who just want to get won over by the relationship here and the stunning locations.