Autumn in New York (2000)
Directed by Joan Chen
Written by Allison Burnett
Starring: Richard Gere, Winona Ryder, Elaine Stritch, Anthony LaPaglia, Vera Farmiga
Will Keane (Gere) is an aging playboy who’s left a trail of broken hearts in his wake. When he falls for the much younger Charlotte (Ryder) he finds a reason to change his ways. Soon Will’s commitment is tested by the disease that’s threatening Charlotte’s life.
This is a romantic drama that was directed by Joan Chen, who is best known for her acting work in films like The Last Emperor. This time she was behind the camera, working with the screenplay written by Allison Burnett (Ask Me Anything). The cast includes Richard Gere (Days of Heaven), Winona Ryder (The Age of Innocence), Elaine Stritch (Monster-In-Law), Anthony LaPaglia (The Client), and Vera Farmiga (The Departed).
The story for this film is a melodrama that works on the common themes of love and loss. The writing does some good things, including creating some interesting characters. The two main roles are complex and interesting. The supporting roles also have some unique aspects that make them individual success. Unfortunately the film doesn’t bring these characters together properly. The writing leaves a series of small episodes between different characters that don’t blend well enough for a film. The dialogue also strays into the sappy and sentimental far too often to be successful. The story also includes a number of twists and connections between characters that push a bit too far. In the end the writing just doesn’t offer enough to make this more than a feature-length soap opera.
The quality of the acting brings this one some level of credibility, sometimes rising above the writing for small moments. Richard Gere does a nice job creating the flawed Will Keane. His performance brings out some of the emotion of the story as he adjusts to the many twists in the film. Unfortunately the writing leaves his work feeling unbalanced. The same could be said for Ryder, who does nice work with a unique role. The rest of the cast also do good work. As a whole the film just doesn’t come together. Despite good acting, this one can’t overcome the story issues.
This is a movie that was built to appeal to fans of sappy romance. (Much like 2001’s Sweet November.) Unfortunately the film doesn’t come together from a story point of view. This leaves a movie that tries too hard to push the emotion while forgetting the important connections that would’ve made this more successful. Like many movies, this might appeal to fans of the stars. Otherwise save your time and watch something more complete. I give this one 2 out of 5 stars.