Posted by: Michelle Knoll | November 6, 2008

“Nights in Rodanthe” – A Review

Well, actually, these comments couldn’t be considered a professional review, so maybe I shouldn’t have said that.

I love stories about the ocean, the beach, the coastal area.  As a matter of fact, my first novel is about such an area.  (One of these days when I’m not NaNo-ing, I’ll get that thing finished.)  There’s just something about coastal areas that is just so inviting.  I love the serenity of a quiet beach.

Rodanthe is just such a place.  I’ve actually been there, or close by there, and after seeing this movie, I plan on taking another trip to that area.  Especially to see the house that was used in the movie.

If you’ve never been to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, then you have missed a treat.  There is lots to do, but if you want a place to get away from it all, then you can do that as well.  Since I like to go to the beach to get away, I like areas like the Outer Banks, where natural beauty still remains.

But I’m rambling about the beach, and not talking about the movie.  Forgive me.

I had seen the reviews, but most of the reviews focus on what happens between the two main characters.  I was not prepared for the tension between the mother and daughter, though at the age of the daughter this is entirely understandable.  And it helps to get the point across that the mom needs a break, a serious break, to get away and think through what she’s dealing with in her life.  Her estranged husband is seen only for a short moment near the beginning of the movie, just to give you enough of a feeling as to why they are estranged from one another, and why she is so emotionally stretched. 

Flashing back and forth from her situation to the doctor who is packing for his “get away from it all” four days to this bed and breakfast, really makes it unclear why the good doctor is even making the trip.  You really don’t understand why he looks sad and weary, until much later on in the movie.  When he arrives at the house, it’s quite clear that he is troubled, but the mystery about who he is and why he is so distraught isn’t revealed until his hostess makes a trip to a local store for supplies.

I found it disheartening that she would find out the details of his trauma through a local in the area.  I wish the producers of the movie would have had her read the information in the letter, and let her find out that way.  But that’s just my personal opinion.  Maybe it was written than way to set up conflict between hostess and guest, because when she returned to the house, and talked to the doctor about why he was actually in the area, the argument that ensued brought out some issues that were really the basis for the whole story: why couldn’t he understand where his patient’s husband was coming from? didn’t he understand anything about family? why did he make the choices that he had made? why did she make the choices that she had made? how do you live with the consequences of those choices?

The one thing I did like about the movie was instead of these two people using their wounds and emotional trauma to feed on each other and tailspin into a disastrous situation where they would ultimately destroy one another, they tried to encourage each other to take another look, and tried to help pull each other back up “out of the ditch.”   Adrienne could have used Dr. Flanner during his four-day stay, just to help her forget what was waiting on her back home, and Dr. Flanner could have used Adrienne to carelessly drown himself in a four-day emotional affair, but they didn’t do that.  They took the time to really get to know one another, and build something out of that.  That to me, is beautiful.  Reaching out to someone else who is hurting, instead of focusing on your own hurts, helps you to actually rise above your own hurts, and actually helps you to handle those hurts in a better way.

The doctor helped Adrienne see that if she had left something behind, given up something that was really who she was, then she needed to go back and rediscover that part of herself.  She didn’t need to let it die in the first place, not for anyone or anything.  Becoming a part of someone else’s life shouldn’t ever mean that you become less than who you are.  Adrienne had shortchanged herself by thinking that she had to give up a certain talent or a certain hobby that brought her joy, just to be married.  How many of the rest of us do that in our lives?  Why do we do that?  We shouldn’t do that!

Why did the good doctor give up family life, just to be a good doctor?  Why couldn’t he understand the importance of family?  How did he get so seriously out of balance?  I was glad that one of the goals of the story was to help the doctor get back in touch with life.  In working so hard to defend life and protect life and heal life and preserve life and make life better for all of his patients, he missed out on his own life.  So his chance meeting with Adrienne and her love for her children, helped him to see what he had given up.  That was awesome.

The ending though… that was so uncool.  I know that not every story ends with “and they all lived happily ever after.”  But the ending was a little too much for me.  I rarely get angry at movies, but this one made me angry.  Even though Adrienne was getting another chance to be who she really was, she couldn’t spend that discovery with the one that had helped her find it.  That was hard to swallow.  A very painful ending indeed.

These are my thoughts, and they probably won’t impress anyone else, but I see at least one deeper meaning in this movie that probably wasn’t supposed to send out deep meanings:  life is short, take no chances at letting opportunities pass you by, and listen for God’s voice everywhere you go.  God gives you talents and abilities and things that you can use to bless others, but they are also there to enhance your life and help you enjoy life and feel like you’re really alive.  When you let those go, for any reason, you are allowing part of yourself to die, in a way that God never intended.  God wants us to die to self, yes, that’s true, but not in the sense that we lose part of who we really are.  Things of beauty are things from God’s heart, and He wants us to keep those! To let those be taken away from you, or to set those things down, is to reject how God has made you in His image. That’s true sadness, and that’s what makes our lives so much less than really living.

And when God gives you a second change at bringing those talents and gifts to life, to be used to bring beauty into this world?  Take the chance!

Okay, so I found more than one deep truth in all that I saw in the movie.  So there.  😉

Comments, viewpoints, discussions, even disagreements, are welcome.

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