Autumn in New York (2000)
Directed by: Joan Chen | 103 minutes | drama, romance | Actors: Richard Gere, Winona Ryder, Anthony LaPaglia, Elaine Stritch, Vera Farmiga, Sherry Stringfield, Jill Hennessy, JK Simmons, Sam Trammell, Mary Beth Hurt, Kali Rocha, Steven Randazzo, Toby Poser, George Spielvogel III, Ranjit Chowdhry
In the romantic drama ‘Autumn in New York’, Will, played by Richard Gere, falls for Charlotte (Winona Ryder), who is more than twenty years younger. And while Charlotte carries the drama with her, it’s Will’s confrontation with herself that’s what the film is all about. The improbability of Will and Charlotte’s love is not only caused by the huge age difference, but largely because Charlotte readily accepts all the quirks of spoiled Will. You would almost think that the over-the-top acting of Gere and Ryder is used to compensate for the improbability of love. Unfortunately this is not the case, and the acting is simply far below the capabilities of these two actors. Ryder in particular doesn’t show much in this film that she looks nice and can smile sweetly. There is little to be seen of emotions, while they are very present in her role. Although Gere is very credible as an attractive bachelor who can wrap all women around his finger, he also does not radiate the deep love he will eventually feel. The chemistry between these two is created forcibly and does not look spontaneous.
The story of ‘Autumn in New York’ has few surprising twists, and is quite predictable. Because the romance offers little room to magnify the confrontations Will experiences, another storyline has been added for Will. In his past he left a pregnant woman to her fate. He turns out to have a daughter who visits him. It’s a shame that adding this storyline isn’t enough to give the film depth. Because with a romantic story, good actors, the beautiful surroundings of New York and a sufficient budget, the ingredients are fully present to make a good film. Unfortunately, things get bogged down in an unattractive drama that only manages to hold the attention moderately.
What the viewer can feel good about is the positive view of Charlotte’s life. The dialogues between Will and his friend are fun, direct, and good. Will’s midlife crisis and his fear of commitment are also amusing at times, and probably recognizable to some. However, it is not enough to make ‘Autumn in New York’ a successful production.