Richard Gere’s phoniest acting tic has to be the way that he tosses back his head and laughs, in ”spontaneous” delight, at his romantic costar. In the tastefully embarrassing Autumn in New York, Gere once again plays a selfish sleazo who learns to embrace love over vanity. This time he’s a celebrity chef, and Winona Ryder, who will probably be acting like a coy and girlish debutante when she’s 80, is the poem-spouting, funky-hat-making princess who cures him of his womanizing ways when it turns out that she’s suffering from Old Movie Disease (oops, I mean a heart tumor).
It’s unfortunate that the film was directed by Joan Chen, who made the shattering Xiu-Xiu: The Sent-Down Girl. The gentle humanism of Chen’s touch is much in evidence here, yet she can’t undo the howler at the movie’s center — namely, that Gere’s serial dater has conveniently chosen to fall in love with the one young woman in Manhattan who won’t be around in six months anyway. C