Autumn in New York [2000]

Autumn in New York is a by-the-numbers love story, right down to its opening shot of, yes, autumn in New York. Richard Gere stars as restaurateur/lady's man Will, while Winona Ryder plays the airy-fairy, oh-too-delicate-for-this-world Charlotte. Will is 48, Charlotte is 22, and it just keeps getting creepier: Will actually used to hang out with Charlotte's mom. She plays artily with beads and sparkly things, he notices how elfin and different she is (inspiring such stomach-churning dialogue as "I find you completely unprecedented and therefore utterly unpredictable"), and soon they're in love. Ah, but it's doomed: she has a tumor in her heart (just in case you missed the significance, Charlotte says "I'm sick in my heart!"). Does Charlotte have enough time left to teach Will to truly love? While Gere does a stoic job, Ryder spends a lot of time being darling and winsome, aided by the fact that Charlotte has managed to catch one of those special movie diseases where you never look bad or get tubes stuck up your nose. Director Joan Chen doesn't have much of a script to work with, but at least she knows how to pick a cinematographer; the whole movie is shot in gorgeous fall-leaf colors. Several excellent supporting actors are trapped in this movie: Jill Hennessey and Anthony LaPaglia do their very best, but what can they do in the face of such a sweeping, creepy love? Autumn in New York is nothing if not an earnest movie, and it certainly means well. Much like Charlotte, it seems to cry, "Can you let me love you? Please?" No. --Ali Davis

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