In AUTUMN IN NEW YORK, Winona Ryder, as Charlotte, is a 28 year old
playing a 22 year old ("22 and never been kissed," jokes her friend) who
acts like a 15 year old. Charlotte's every other sentence is "Wow!"
>From the beginning we can tell that something is wrong with her. With a
bad case of terminal giggles, she looks like she may need to be rushed
to the emergency room at any time. Certainly someone with such a
constant case of nervous laughter will eventually no longer be able to
Her illness, however, turns out to be a more traditional one in this
modern-day LOVE STORY. We learn early-on that Charlotte has a rare
heart disease that will take her life within a year.
It is all so sad.
No, not about Charlotte's disease, but about the movie itself. With its
lush autumnal color palette, it is one of most handsomely filmed movies
this year and has gorgeous stars to match (Winona Ryder and Richard
Gere). But it is saddled with a sappy, silly script by Allison Burnett,
whose only other screenplays were for those classic films: Red Meat,
Bleeding Hearts, and Bloodfist III: Forced to Fight. Joan Chen's fine
direction can't overcome the problems with the script, which contains
such gems as, "What's the point of being young and beautiful if it's not
to keep men waiting."
Richard Gere, as New York Magazine cover boy Will Keane, is a famous
restaurateur and "womanizer." The latter malady is a disease as sure
and certain as Charlotte's heart trouble. Will tells her that, "if I
could be different, I would." He is the type who lies to young women in
order to seduce them, whereas she is the sort that stops strangers on
the street to offer help. Nevertheless, they fall in love, or at least
what passes for love in this movie.
Never is their chemistry really convincing. Charlotte seems more in
love with Will's persona than Will himself. And he appears to love her
because he feels he's obligated to since he tricked her before he found
out she had an upcoming date with the mortician.
51-year-old Gere has the incredible good looks to which every man
aspires. With long flowing hair that undulates like an ocean wave and
with a smile that could charm even the most unreceptive, Gere is just as
handsome as Ryder is beautiful. "You know what's wrong with people like
you?" Will's friend John (Anthony LaPaglia), tells him. "Too much sex.
It dulls the brain." Just to make sure that we realize that not all
movie stars age as gracefully as Gere, who barely ages at all, Mary Beth
Hurt, in a cameo as Charlotte's doctor, looks older than her 52 years.
Much is made of the difference in the ages of the two leads. Will once
dated Charlotte's mom. Don't worry, they didn't have sex. Charlotte
explains that she doesn't mind his being older since "I collect
Will tells Charlotte upfront that they have "no future" other than a
quickie love affair. She trumps him with her two word response -- "I'm
sick." After that the movie dramatically changes tone from happy,
happy, happy to sad, sad, sad.
Later, in perhaps the movie's most pathetic line, Charlotte tells Will,
"In a year or so I could be the sob story you use to bag more chicks."
This predictable, would-be tearjerker will leave you remarkably dry
eyed. With such trite dialog, this should come as no surprise.
AUTUMN IN NEW YORK runs 1:45. It is rated PG-13 for language and some
sensuality and would be acceptable for kids around 12 and up.
Copyright © 2000 Steve Rhodes