Autumn in New York: Movie Review

autumn_in_ny_3Autumn in New York is a 2000 film directed by Joan Chen starring Richard Gere and Winona Ryder. So here’s another review of a romantic movie, which I always say it’s not my cup of tea. There are exceptions to this rule, of course, such as When Harry Met Sally (1989) among comedies, and Titanic (1997) among dramas. I can certainly say that Autumn in New York isn’t one of those, as far as I’m concerned.

Here’s the plot: Will (Richard Gere) is a rich New York cook and also a famous Don Giovanni. He’s always with a different girl and he seems unable to have a stable relationship. We understand this from a ridiculous dialogue between him and one of those girls in which he says that their relationship has no future because he’s like that, and that’s it (presumably he tells the same thing to every girl). Gere is particularly woody in this film, which doesn’t help the credibility of the script dialogues, which are terrible even without being butchered by bad acting. One day, Will meets, and falls in love with, 22-year-old Charlotte (Winona Ryder, she was 29-year-old at the time), the daughter of one of his ex-girlfriends who died in an accident. When he reaches the point of telling her that their relationship has no future, he’s surprised for the first time: “Of course it doesn’t,” says Charlotte, “I’ve only a few months to live!

And that’s when Will really falls in love! Has no one thought about how stupid this is?Will finds true love when he meets a person with whom he can continue to do what he’s done all his life that is to have a short relationship and then continue with his life! But let’s leave aside the psychological implications of the plot. Thanks to Charlotte, Will not only finds love, but also become a better person by getting close to his only daughter that he didn’t even know he had. Uff…

What are the problems of this film? Well, where do I begin? The plot is so obvious that the ending is known a few minutes into the movie. Not that romantic films are characterized by the complexity of their plots, but then let’s talk about the emotional attachment to the characters. In Autumn in New York I found it impossible to feel anything (but hate) for the two leads: Will is simply unbearable (but not nice unbearable like the character of Billy Crystal in When Harry Met Sally: just unbearable unbearable), and Charlotte doesn’t say nor do anything to make us sympathize with her condition of terminally ill. Then, why should I feel sympathy for these arrogant rich people who go around New York moving from one party to another?

As mentioned, the dialogues do not help: quoting Edna St. Vincent Millay’s poems and Emily Dickinson’s phrases like the characters in this film doesn’t exactly serve the purpose of creating empathy with anyone. Not even the excited finale with the doctor (J.K. Simmons, I prefer to remember you as the perfect Jonah Jameson) arriving by helicopter to save the poor girl and the subsequent sad expressions shot in slow motion is capable to shake this boring film. It’s not original at all and it’s also unnecessarily pretentious.

Well, at least Central Park in autumn is cool, that’s about the only thing I liked of Autumn in New York. Not much, I know, but I like to see the bright side of things! Ah, and Chen gave up directing films after this wonderful work of art. Let me say thank you on behalf of cinema. Ciao!

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