Autumn in New York

Directed by Joan Chen
Starring: Richard Gere, Winona Ryder, Anthony LaPaglia, Elaine Stritch, Vera Farmiga, Sherry Stringfield.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for language and some sensuality.

Review by Matt Heffernan <>
August 12, 2000

The last time MGM kept the press away from a film before it was released, it was for the horrendously awful Supernova. Obviously, they wanted to minimize the negative buzz they were sure to get from critics. For Autumn in New York, the studio is trying to cover up their reasons, saying that they don't want the press to reveal certain plot elements. Hitchcock did the same thing for Psycho, but that film actually had some surprises in it, unlike the banal film I am reviewing today.

Richard Gere plays Will Keane, a womanizing restaurant owner who would be the most detestable romantic lead, if he weren't so darned cute. That explains why young Charlotte (Winona Ryder) falls for him, despite having a terminal heart condition.

That's right! She's gonna die! Of course, you knew that if you saw any of the ads that MGM released. In fact, that's all that the ads convey, and that's all that the film is about. Bad-boy meets dying-good-girl. They fall in love, he messes around, they break up, and they get back together just in time for her to start dying.

I guess I spilled the beans, there. Sorry, MGM. I just feel that it is my civic responsibility to warn people that, instead of what the press releases said, there are no surprises, no plot twists -- not even a plot, really. They try instilling some false hope with a risky operation that Will wants and Charlotte disagrees with, but she relents for the sake of love.

The funny thing is that no matter how ridiculous this film gets, I still want to like Gere and Ryder. In fact, the whole cast refuses to give up on the film. It's sort of touching -- much more so than the story of the film. They want it to work, to stand out, to make the audience feel something. They go after tears with a vengeance by the end, and it even gets a few from some people, but anybody who sees the ancient formulas being applied won't be fooled.

Autumn in New York isn't really a bad film. It's just pointless melodrama with a few good performances. Gere and Ryder objected to MGM's decision against pre-screening it, knowing that their work would be overshadowed by the stigma. As I see it, this film isn't worth fighting over, and they have probably realized that by now.

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Autumn in New York (2000)

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