Autumn In New York


Directed by: Joan Chen
Written by:Allison Burnett
Starring: Richard Gere, Winona Ryder, Anthony LaPaglia, Mary Beth Hurt, Sherry Stringfield, Elaine Stritch
Released: November 23, 2000
Grade: C

Will Keane (Gere) is a food connoisseur with his own high-priced restaurant earning him cover shots on exclusive New York magazines.  Never married, he has the reputation of being a “womaniser” having romanced so many women and never taken the next step.  He’s only recently dumped his latest girlfriend with the “it’s not you, it’s me” routine.

It doesn’t take long for Keane to find someone new when he sights a dashing young lady, Charlotte Fielding (Ryder), celebrating her 22nd birthday in his restaurant.  Even more surprising is that she is the daughter of a former flame from many years ago.  Will’s friends are joking with him regarding the age difference but both seem to like each other and soon they find themselves falling in love.

Love in movies is never easy and soon we find Charlotte is suffering from a tumour in her heart and has less than a year to live.  This comes as a shock to Will and his theory of loving and leaving women is going to put to the test...

Romantic dramas are designed to move people but I can honestly say my facial expression did not alter for the entire 105 minutes.  Evidence of romance between Gere and Ryder was lacking and it seemed a poor casting choice.  The supporting stars, including Anthony LaPaglia, Sherry Stringfield and Mary Beth Hurt, offer little to help the story.  The subplots that have been accommodated into the main story and equally less interesting and confusingly resolved.

Joan Chen is an accomplished actress and has shown directorial ability before (in The Sent Down Girl) but this is a very weak effort.  All the picturesque shots of New York are mundane and of particular note, the big romance scene between Ryder and Gere in the bedroom is bewilderingly shot.

When released in the United States, MGM refused to screen the film to critics prior to its release and in anyone’s book, that’s a bad sign.  If the film was worth recommending, the studio would be dying for critics to see it to generate positive word and Oscar hype.  When a film costs $40m and has even the studio running scared, you know you’ve got problems.  At least now, I know for sure.