1999; Rated PG-13; 132 Minutes
Kevin Costner: Garret Blake
Robin Wright: Theresa Osborne
Paul Newman: Dodge Blake
John Savage: Johnny Land
Ileana Douglas: Lina Paul
Robbie Coltrane: Charlie Toschi
Produced by Kevin
Costner, Denise Di Novi, Leslie Weisberg and Jim Wilson;
Directed by Luis Mandoki; Screenwritten by
by DAVID KEYES
love does not exist in the way that "Message In A Bottle"
thinks it does. Real love is something that gradually develops
over time, when two people begin to built trust, attraction,
and companionship with each other. That's the logical belief
on how 'true love' is generated. Such rationality is nonexistent
with this bloated, incompetent movie, which seems to believe
that people can be drawn together by a measly bottle washed
up on an ocean.
film is about a researcher for the Chicago Tribune named
Theresa Osborne. She is played by Robin Wright, whose character
is typical and lighthearted, while remaining somewhat disheartened.
One day, while walking along the beach, she discovers a
bottle containing a lyrically provocative letter inside,
written to a love named "Catherine." Eventually, two more
letters are found, and once they're analyzed by Theresa,
she tracks down the source to somewhere in North Carolina.
Naturally, she heads down there to meet him.
arrives there to find his father, Dodge, who is played so
well by Paul Newman that you wish you were watching him
in a different movie. After he is introduced, we finally
meet the source of letters: the fisherman Garret, played
by Kevin Costner. Not only is he a top notch fisherman,
but also a solid boat maker. He's good at what he does,
and that's clearly the truth, even in scenes when we see
his creations up close. But it doesn't take long to realize
that all of this boat-making and fishing is just to hide
his true feelings. He is still grieving for his deceased
wife Catherine. Who wouldn't. The way he wrote about her
in those bottle messages, you'd love to meet her. Without
revealing that she is actually a researcher, Theresa strikes
up a friendship with him; she knows the letters, but he
doesn't know that she's even seen them, much less know about
them. On her voyage home, she writes an article about the
experience with this man; it is her first article, and the
newspaper's editors are impressed. Just like that, they
give her a personal office, with a great view and nice furniture.
And it only took one article. One. Think, if one story could
do that for her in this movie, wait 'till the Tribune sees
my work... (sarcasm!)
then, out goes the premise and in comes the romance. The
screenplay abandons the story for scenes of touchy-feely
romance between Theresa and Garret. It probably seemed like
a good idea on paper, but once it got to the screen, the
filmmakers likely realized their boo-boo. Afterwards, they
could no longer keep their direction, and stuck to the sentimental
aspects so dreadfully that no one could have hoped to save
the film from self-destruction. Like most tear-jerker films,
it also has a horrible ending. I normally burden myself
with these kinds of films by revealing the conclusion, but
I can make an exception here. Let's just say that, for once,
the ending is not worth mentioning, even if it is so bad
that everyone needs to be warned.
course, "Message In A Bottle" is not the worst melodramatic
film in recent memory (bring on the preposterous "Patch
Adams" for that title), but it is perhaps the most obvious
attempt at manipulating emotion. All of these over-sentimental
films are linked together like a cinematic family, each
with their own individuality but all with the same feeling.
There's always an oddball in one family, and here, the tear-jerkers
have not yet conceived their diamond in the rough. Until
Hollywood has realized that it cannot continue pushing our
buttons with obvious displays of unemotional feelings, these
films, might they look different, will continue being made.
1999, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
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