Autumn in New York (2000) / Romance-Drama
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for language and some sensuality
Running Time: 103 min.
Cast: Richard Gere, Winona Ryder, Anthony La Paglia, Elaine Stritch, Vera Farmiga, Jill Hennessy, J.K. Simmons
Director: Joan Chen
Screenplay: Allison Burnett
Review published August 14, 2000
Autumn in New York tells the story of a playboy named Will (Gere, Runaway Bride), approaching 50 and taking a fancy to a much younger woman, Charlotte (Ryder, Alien Resurrection), despite feeling that their age difference will make things not work out. Charlotte points out that their age difference won't matter since the relationship isn't going to last long due to a heart condition that should have killed her already. Diagnosed with a year at best to live, the two lovers make a connection, but knowledge of her imminent death keeps Will holding back from falling in love, and also spending too much time in trying to find some cure for his beloved Charlotte.
The talented actress-turned-director Joan Chen (Xiu Xiu) should get the lion's share of the credit as to why what would ordinarily be a routine tearjerker works somewhat, along with an endearing performance by Ryder. Not as engrossing or emotionally draining as most of its ilk, Autumn in New York succeeds due to some stylish symbolism and a few key moments of insight rather than in trying to illicit tears. It is for these very insights that the movie is worthwhile viewing, and even though the film follows an oft-traveled pattern in terms of plot, it still squeaks out a few surprises of its own. While the premise is contrived, there are some moments that even had me wondering if what I thought would happen might not in any given scene.
At the same time, Autumn in New York isn't nearly as good as it would like to be. Perhaps a different leading man would have helped, and though Gere gives what he can, he just doesn't have the acting prowess to make us care deeply for what should obviously be a sympathetic, deeply troubled and lonely man. The cinematography makes for a nice looking film to be sure, but also is somewhat dark and somber in a manner that keeps us aloof, and I suppose that's essentially what's really wrong with the film -- it keeps your attention, but it never really grabs you.
In summation, Autumn in New York has just enough going for it to please lovers of melodrama, but not enough to make it worthwhile for anyone else
©2000 Vince Leo