Winona Gere's up for Autumn
There is a line in "Autumn in New York" which mentions that there are only two kinds of love stories and to be honest "Autumn in New York" for the most follows the most obvious, well worn love story that numerous other romantic movies have trodden. That means we have a basis of a troubled relationship with age, infidelity, commitment and sickness all causing problems for the couple in love. As such for the most "Autumn in New York" is nothing special, Richard Gere is charming as the older lothario whilst Winona Ryder is cute and a little kooky as the younger woman and what happens between them is for the most routine. But if all you want is some fairytale style romance then it works, it becomes sweet and enjoyable.
Will Keane (Richard Gere - Runaway Bride) is a 48 year old successful restaurateur who never commits to a relationship and revels in his bachelor status, that is until he meets Charlotte Fielding (Winona Ryder - Girl, Interrupted) a kooky 22 year old who he becomes smitten with. Except Charlotte has a life threatening heart condition which means their relationship couldn't go anywhere even if Will could face up to his fear of commitment. But as Charlotte's health starts to impact on the way he feels he realises that she could be the one.
To be brutally honest there is much about "Autumn in New York" which is damn right cloying. Dialogue at times borders on the cheesy and romantic elements feel completely forced. It is at times quite hard to take and seems to float in a sea of mediocrity as it reworks a variety of well worn formula and more cliches than is necessary. Even the staging of some scenes which capitalize on the autumnal New York setting with the soft hues and rust coloured leaves coating the paths ending up feeling corny.
But then there is another side of "Autumn in New York" which is actually surprisingly charming. The unlikely relationship between Will and Charlotte delivers that romantic fantasy that these sorts of movies often get wrong. Even the vast age difference is forgotten as the magic of the relationship takes hold. It manages to deliver on those tender moments of an ill fated romance and as such achieves a level of poignancy that you don't expect.
The poignancy aspect is in itself an issue because "Autumn in New York" at times tries to be too much; it is like two movies rolled into one and goes from fun and frolics to something darker delivering an awkward balance, which is hard to accept after such a romanticized first half. It also doesn't help that they try to make the storyline more complex than it needs to be with extra subplots such as Will's friendship with Dolly and her daughter Kate along with the storyline revolving around Lisa. It just adds a little too many elements to what doesn't need to be bolstered by superfluous sub stories.
Of course with a movie which slowly heads to an expected series of final scenes there is the question looming over whether they bottle it or not. Will they deliver a contrived predictable ending or go for something far more real and raw. I will tell you this that in those final scenes it manages to keep you guessing delivering more tender moments laced with even more emotion. Although without revealing anything there is a scene which is so corny that it detracts from what great things had been achieved.
As for the performances well for once I really enjoyed Richard Gere's performance as aging lothario Will Keane. He is perfectly cast as the flirtatious womanizer oozing charm in those early scenes but also quite pleasant when it comes to his relationship with Charlotte. His performance does struggle a little towards the end when the movie calls for more drama but it is still more than adequate. Opposite Gere, and equally good, is Winona Ryder as Charlotte with her slightly kooky characterisation of this young woman who childishly blushes when Will first notices her. It is a romantic and cute touch to an on the whole lovely character although I will admit I struggled with her acceptance of her illness in what at times seemed like a very blase manner.
Aside from the nice pairing of Gere and Ryder Anthony LaPaglia does a nice turn in the part of Will's friend John, a hugely under written part and Elaine Stritch is a joy as the slightly flamboyant Dolly.
What this all boils down to is that "Autumn in New York" is a good movie one which is surprisingly enjoyable. It does have its problems with at times it seeming to try to hard and delivering extra story elements which in reality it doesn't need. But for me the pairing of Richard Gere and Winona Ryder works, plus with some nice moments of tender poignancy there is an impressive and unexpected side to "Autumn in New York" you just have to open your heart to it.
Tags: Age Gap Romances