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Autumn In New York

Richard Gere romances Winona Ryder and surprises himself by discovering love against the backdrop of New York City -- and a lot of sappy fall leaves.


Smitten by a young woman (Ryder) celebrating her 22nd birthday in his chi-chi restaurant, relentless womanizer Will Keane (Gere) sets his sights on this cherubic vision 27 years his junior. Against his better judgment, the chiding of his friends and the fact that she's the daughter of a former flame, Will invites Charlotte to a reception and sparks fly. The morning after, Will recites his "Let's be friends" speech, but Charlotte counters with an emotional challenge and a situation that will change his life -- and hers -- forever.


Why these A list stars chose this script might always remain a mystery, but to their credit, they make this unlikely romance border on the believable. Gere, oozing his patented "Pretty Woman" and "Runaway Bride" romantic charm, hits every trademark brood, squint and exhale in his repertoire. Ryder continues to mine her kewpie doll blank expression, punctuating her performance with intermittent anger and puppy dog eyes.


A lot of beautiful fall foliage can make any film watchable, and director Joan Chen ("Xiu Xiu: The Sent-Down Girl") struggles admirably to construct a silk purse from a sow's ear script. Despite sappy set pieces and some painfully awkward lines, Chen manages to exploit the beautiful seasonal locations and cuisine scenes to their fullest, proving she can direct a sturdy picture.

Bottom Line

On a rainy fall day when you're PMS-ing, see this movie.


Starring Richard Gere, Winona Ryder, Anthony LaPaglia, Elaine Stritch and Sherry Stringfield.

Directed by Joan Chen. Written by Allison Burnett. Produced by Amy Robinson, Gary Lucchesi and Tom Rosenberg. Released by MGM/UA.