Message In A Bottle Review

Message In A Bottle
A woman discovers a tragic love letter in a bottle on a beach, and is determined to track down its author.

by Ian Nathan |
Published on
Release Date:

23 Apr 1999

Running Time:

119 minutes



Original Title:

Message In A Bottle

Given the scope of his recent disasters you can forgive Kevin Costner for opting for safe territory in this adult romance about emotionally tortured souls rediscovering love with great difficulty. The disconcerting truth is that despite all of its assured acting, pristine skylines and worthy attempts to have big talks about relationships, it still amounts to horridly transparent weepy claptrap.

The set-up is rapidly assembled and cutely romantic. Troubled boat-builder Garret Blake (Costner) writes emotionally stricken letters to his dead wife and sets them adrift in the ocean. By chance, troubled divorcee Theresa Osbourne (Wright Penn) discovers one and is so swept away by its lyrical pangs, she utilises all her journo talents to locate the forlorn sailor. And so she does. And so they fall for one another. With all those twilight beach rambles, yachting ventures and "perfect steak dinners" it was pretty much inevitable. As are the necessary emotional pressure points (he's got this dead wife thing going, she's not told him about reading his mail) hamfistedly introduced into a lush middle-class love story.

It's all thinly likeable, Wright Penn is affecting in her attempts to break through to a frozen heart and the clutch of supporting characters, especially Newman doing a juicy wise old buffer shtick as Garret's dad, add enough colour to upset the rambling cliches. There are even odd flashes of genuine emotive power - the big father-son showdown is a genuine heart grabber. But Mandoki is unwilling to pursue friction, favouring sequinned sentiment played out to la-di-da soft rock - the hideously tasteful sex scene oozes out like some Ikea ad for pine framed double-beds. And there is nothing worse these days than an acceptably dumb Hollywood romance Sellotaping on a surprise extra dimension in the vague hope of adding intelligence and maturity.

So misjudged is the final "profound" development that in its sheer rumness you idealise a delightful situation where screenwriter DiPego somehow got his wires crossed with another Eastern seaboard drama. And as Costner casts off in his new spangly yacht - the embodiment of his dead wife we are bafflingly led to consider - a freak 30-foot Great White swims into his waters and he shockingly realises he's gonna need a bigger boat.

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