Nights in Rodanthe

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Opens: Friday, Sept. 26 (Warner Bros. Pictures)

LOS ANGELES -- Judging from the part of the ad that says, "... from the author of 'The Notebook,' " you might suspect that this particular Richard Gere-Diane Lane reunion isn't going to be the torrid affair that was 2002's "Unfaithful," and of course you'd be quite right.

Based on the novel, "Nights in Rodanthe" is typical Nicholas Sparks fare -- a weepy romance dealing with love, death and other unstoppable forces of nature -- that has been turned into a tasteful melodrama courtesy of the easy chemistry between its two leads and a generally restrained touch from Tony-winning director George C. Wolfe in his feature debut.

Aimed at mature females, the Warner Bros. release, penned by Ann Peacock and John Romano, should have little trouble hitting its target, generating respectable autumn currency.

Once again set in the author's beloved North Carolina, this time on the state's windswept Outer Banks, the film finds Lane's Adrienne trying to decide whether she should take back her unfaithful husband (Christopher Meloni) after a seven-month estrangement.

She'll theoretically have plenty of time for contemplation over the weekend while managing the Rodanthe inn belonging to her best friend (Viola Davis).

Despite it being the off-season, she finds herself with a solitary guest in Gere's Paul, a preoccupied surgeon who doesn't seem daunted by the threat of an advancing hurricane.

Suffice it to say, Adrienne won't be holding Paul to the posted check-out time.

Very much a throwback to those nicely appointed "women's pictures" of the 1950s, the production benefits from Wolfe's theatrical background, artfully layering on the moody atmospherics as the gracefully aging Lane and Gere are encouraged to allow their natural instincts to be their guides.

It's still going to make most guys want to dive into their popcorn, but they'll at least be able to appreciate the striking cinematography by frequent Pedro Almodovar collaborator Affonso Beato and the rustic charm of veteran production designer Patrizia von Brandenstein's weather-worn sets.

Production: Village Roadshow Pictures, Di Novi Pictures. Cast: Richard Gere, Diane Lane, Scott Glenn, Christopher Meloni, Viola Davis. Director: George C. Wolfe. Screenwriters: Ann Peacock, John Romano . Executive producers: Doug Claybourne, Alison Greenspan, Dana Goldberg, Bruce Berman. Producer: Denise Di Novi. Director of photography: Affonso Beato. Production designer: Patrizia von Brandenstein. Music: Jeanine Tesori. Editor: Brian A. Kates. Rated PG-13, 94 minutes.

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