“Autumn in New York”

Autumn in New York _

By Jae-Ha Kim
Chicago Sun-Times
August 12, 2000

2 stars

“Autumn in New York” is a movie built to tug at our heartstrings. But with its rote story line, the film proves to be little more than pretty eye candy in the form of stars Richard Gere and Winona Ryder.

Will Keane (Gere) is a 48-year-old womanizer who owns a hip New York restaurant. Celebrating her 22nd birthday at his restaurant, Charlotte Fielding (Ryder) catches his wandering eye.

As luck would have it, Charlotte’s cantankerous grandmother is at the birthday dinner and introduces Charlotte to Will. Given his reputation, and considering that he broke Charlotte’s mother’s heart decades ago, it’s implausible that granny would want this wolf to get his hands on Charlotte.

Will tricks Charlotte into going out with him. Why the need for deception? He is exceptionally good-looking and has never had problems landing dates with young’uns in the past. Why would Charlotte be an exception?

“I’m too old for you,” he insincerely tells her.

“I collect antiques,” she quips back.

The morning after he beds her, Will gives Charlotte his standard, commitment-phobic speech: “All I’m able to offer you is this–what we have right now–until it ends. We have no future.”

Instead of spinning around and leaving him and his tired old line, Charlotte lets him know that that’s fine with her, since she’s got a defective heart.

But talk is cheap. And quicker than you can say, “Love Story,” Charlotte falls in love with him.

The filmmakers manipulate a love affair between the two. But none of this rings true since we don’t really believe that Will is capable of loving anyone other than himself. He’s the type of guy who sleeps with other women and then, when caught, tells his girlfriend he did so because he felt like it.

As a friend of Will’s notes, Charlotte is the perfect woman for him:  “Young, beautiful and on her way out.”

Also tacked on almost as an afterthought is a subplot about a child Will may have fathered in his days as a waitor.

“Food is the only beautiful thing that truly nourishes,” Will tells Charlotte.

If that’s true, then this film is a fast food fix, rather than a truly delicious meal.


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