Grit Blogs > The Open Book

Nights in Rodanthe vs. The Duchess

By Jean Teller, Sr. Assoc. Editor

Tags: Nights in Rodanthe, The Duchess, Richard Gere, Diane Lane, Kiera Knightley, Ralph Fiennes,

Richard Gere and Diane Lane find love in Nights in Rodanthe.Despite the title, there really isn’t a battle between these movies. Both character-driven films, Nights in Rodanthe and The Duchess are quiet, emotional and heart-wrenching examples of fine movie making. Both focus on women caught in lives they never imagined and how they cope, sometimes with tears or laughter, and always with dignity and grace.

Starring Diane Lane and Richard Gere, Nights in Rodanthe tells the tale of two people struggling in lives they never thought would be their reality and drowning in loneliness they have no idea how to combat.

A chance encounter at a bed and breakfast on the coast of North Carolina leads to love for Adrienne and Paul, both with demons of their own. They help each other heal and make plans for the future. But the movie doesn’t end there, and it won’t end the way you want it to. It didn’t for me, anyway.

The acting is superb in Nights in Rodanthe, particularly from Lane. Her anguish over a failed marriage, her love for her children and her bewilderment on where to go next is evident at every turn. One particular scene is shot focused on Lane and without background music, and it is all the more poignant and emotional for the silence.

If nothing else, go see Nights in Rodanthe for the scenery – that coastal bed and breakfast is one gorgeous place. It will leave you breathless. Just remember those tissues.

The Duchess heralds a new level of acting from Kiera Knightley.

The Duchess is all Kiera Knightley. In almost every scene, Knightley displays the skill, maturity and grace befitting an older actress. After all, she’s only 23.

Georgiana, the Duchess of Devonshire, married when she was just 17. The marriage and her life don’t unfold the way the young woman expects, and she struggles to make her peace with the uncomfortable role society expects her to play. She eventually discovers her calling as a mother and as a fashionista of the day.

Ralph Fiennes is the Duke of Devonshire, a man cornered by societal expectations. Fiennes offers a splendid portrayal of a man shaped by his family, his title and his uneasy acceptance of his royal role. The Duke isn’t a person I liked, but Fiennes brings humanity to the role of a man trapped by his station in life.

It’s slow going in parts of this movie, but The Duchess is worth a look on the big screen for the costumes, the settings, and Knightley’s performance.

Dakota Fanning grows up in The Secret Life of Bees.

In the Trailers: Another spine-tingling trailer for Changeling starring Angelina Jolie has me aniticipating this late October release; The World War II drama, Defiance, stars Daniel Craig.Defiance starring Daniel Craig and Liev Schreiber continues to intrigue me (love this poster); Sean Penn’s turn as Harvey Milk in Milk looks like an Oscar-worthy performance to me; and The Secret Life of Bees, starring Queen Latifah, Jennifer Hudson and Dakota Fanning (among others), looks heart-wrenching, heart-warming and fascinating. I’m not so sure about Doubt (starring Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman) or Revolutionary Road (reuniting Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio). I’m also looking forward to Max Payne, starring Mark Wahlberg (a great Web site); Rachel Getting Married with Anne Hathaway (it’s getting great buzz from the critics); The Soloist featuring Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr.; and the epic Australia with Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman.

Sean Penn stars as Harvey Milk in the true story of Milk.

What’s getting your attention at the multiplex? Give me a few more titles to anticipate!