Message in a Bottle

No, this is not a movie about a metaphysical alcoholic. It stars Kevin Costner and it's a love story (surprise!) based upon Nicholas' Sparks' New York Times best-selling novel. On Kev's latest attempt to install himself as the James Stewart of the late decade, not to mention millennium (the word "late" being overly appropriate with regard to this film), he even dares to take a step beyond for the finale of this latest escapade. This is one of the few (count 'em, 2) true surprises in this well-made, somewhat enjoyable, non-perturbing, predictable love story which never quite reaches its ultimate destination as tearjerker.

Theresa Osborne (Robin Wright Penn) is a reporter on the move in the world of journalism. She forges her way forward with all the will of a woman who's waiting for the proper moment and proper story and has no intention of letting a ruined marriage or incapacity for developing personal relationships stand in her way. Her good looks and gentle personality make her so likable that even her editor has a soft spot for Our Girl Friday. Little does she know that she is about to find her solution stranded on the beach. When she pops the cork and reads the enclosed missive signed "G", all Theresa can say is "Gosh". And so begins the hunt for the sensitive, yearning, love struck man (must be Kevin) who writes to his Catherine and signs with a solemn, sad and solitary "G".

Theresa wiles her way into the township where Garret Blake (Kevin Costner) spends his days repairing boats not far from where his rakish, roguish, trusty father Dodge (Paul Newman) lives down the road apiece. In fact, dear old dependable Dad is the one who comes up with the advice that helps make the decisive move in his son's life.

On the trail of a tale with love, mystery, and potential American tragedy, our cub reporter smells a story in the air, but doesn't expect to become entangled in it herself. Before she knows it, however, she's sharing more than a bottle of wine with our hero. What's a girl to do (,even if she is a reporter)?

DP Caleb Deschanel captures a visually stunning portrait of a boring love story in rustic and upright American surroundings. Costner is appropriately bland in this suitable role and Wright Penn is sufficiently interesting to appear independent without allowing too much spunk make her fall beyond the category of heroine, potential replacement soul-mate, and womanly woman

For those who intend to see this film, it would be a shame to give too much of the story away, despite the fact that much of it is predictable. My suggestion is not to think too far ahead (like several seconds) and just let the movie wash over you like the water in the opening shots. In other words, take it all with a grain of salt water. In this filmed rendition of "bottle, bottle, who's got the bottle?" we could easily be pushed to admit that in reading (or hearing) the third and last missive, one might say that somebody can't write. (No wonder "The Postman" wouldn't deliver it.)

Of course, things could have been worse. Considering the number of bottles stationed around his house, Kev could have been intending to write a book.

© 1994-2006 The Green Hartnett