Message In A Bottle
Rating -

Romance (US); 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 Gerald DiPego

Review Uploaded


Written by DAVID KEYES

True 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.

The 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.

She 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!)

And 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.

Of 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, Please e-mail the author here if the above review contains any spelling or grammar mistakes.
All published materials contained herein are owned by their respective authors and cannot be reprinted, either in their entirety or in selection, without the expressed written consent of the writers.