Autumn in New York

sleeping dogPG13
Richard Gere, Winona Ryder

This is the kind of movie you can watch while playing Scrabble or something else that takes up most of your brain power. Because, Autumn in New York is downright embarrasingly gooey, silly, predictable and rather unbelievable to boot.

Richard Gere plays Will Keane, a 48 year old restaurateur, famous for his wealth and womanizing. He becomes magically attracted to the 22-year old Charlotte (Winona Ryder) while spotting her at his restaurant one night celebrating a birthday with some friends. Why, when he can and probably has had hundreds more attractive women? Who knows because there’s absolutely nothing about that moment to give us a hint. We do discover, however, that Charlotte is the daughter of his no longer of this world female friend. Must be guilt since he blew off that relationship way back when.

The plot thickens or muddies, in this case, when Charlotte announces to Will that she’s dying from a heart tumor and thus doesn’t want to get involved. Of course he already told her he didn’t want to get involved because he’s a happy-go-lucky kind of guy. So, will Will go his merry way and hurt the fragile angel as such womanizing creeps are apt to do (yes), or will Will fall madly in love with her (yes), sweep her off her tiny feet (yes), feed her fantastic food from his restaurant (yes) and then make extraordinary efforts to save her doomed life (yes)?

And while all this is going on, very slowly like the syrup it is, they take long walks through deserted Central Park and the streets of New York amid beautiful autumn and winter scenery. Ah, such wonderful privacy in movie fantasyland. Directed by Joan Chen. Also features Anthony LaPaglia as Will’s restaurant manager.

While I can’t really fault the actors – both did a decent job, Winona’s character was fairly uninteresting in and of itself, even if she is dying. Gere is very good in just about anything and his character fares better, I think, with a marked emotional change leading to a fully realized being.

Lotta says this is a very glossy soap opera and people accustomed to the genre probably won’t be disappointed.

Reviewed 2/25/01