Autumn In New York Movie Review

No matter how shrewd, wealthy, or debonair a man can be, in a Hollywood drama, he is always humbled by love. Richard Gere is no exception to this rule, and for the second time in a year, he is typecast in yet another implausible romantic lead. Why even bother establishing his character? Like always, he's successful, powerful, and sexy, yet unable to curb his womanizing ways. Only this time it's not Julia Roberts as the flamboyant prostitute or eccentric altar ditcher, but a weepy Winona Ryder, who is half his age and happens to be dying of a rare heart disease. Sound like a winner? It isn't.

Autumn in New York, directed by Joan Chen (Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl), is the recycled love story of a man who has it all but nobody to share it with. The tacky promo, "He taught her how to live, she taught him how to love," basically explains the plot in a nutshell. Flourishing Manhattan restaurant owner Will Keane (Gere) sees something in the beauty, wit, and innocence of young Charlotte (Winona Ryder), despite the fact that he dated her deceased mother in the past. On the flip side, Charlotte has merely a year to live and is not afraid to die because she has nothing truly worth living for. The two find sustenance in one another, but as all love stories go, they endure trying times. Winona is either too young or too sick, and he can't control his libido or escape his shady past. So they're meant for one another, but how long can it last?

It's a surprise that the performances are solid and the acting sustains the film as a whole. Richard Gere shows no signs of aging, a Samson with striking gray locks. Ryder also turns in a credible performance, and her languorous features are perfect for the role of a sickly young woman. Riding the success of Girl, Interrupted, Winona is still hot, and because she gels well with Gere despite the generation gap (or two), she shows her flexibility as an actress.

Unfortunately, the script feels artificial largely because the main characters' dialogue comes across unnatural. For example, when Winona out of nowhere recites random poetry, it seems as if she and Gere are talking at instead of to one another. Also, none of the supporting cast seems to even question Gere's choice of girlfriend, knowing both that he can't stay faithful and that she's on her deathbed. A true friend would have slugged him one and recommended that he start thinking with his other head. Instead, Gere's pal and moral blockade, John (Anthony LaPaglia) reprimands Gere, saying, "You really shouldn't have had sex with the girl on my rooftop that night." Uh, okay.

They danced, she died.


Autumn In New York Rating

" Weak "

Rating: PG-13, 2000


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