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Message in a Bottle (1999)

Message in a Bottle. Feature film. (1999, 131 mins) IMDB

...Here's where I wanted to see a Hollywood ending and was greatly disappointed....


so much wanted to enjoy this movie and there are some moments but, well, there are lots of buts.

A bit about the story. It's a romance, a dramatic one, not a romantic comedy. I don't think there's a comic moment in the film.

Costner plays a shipwright on the southern east coast of the US. He was married at one point, to his true love, in his words, his true north, but she died. He wallows in his grief and at one point he typed up love notes to her, stuffed them into bottles and tossed them into the Atlantic ocean where presumably the Gulf Stream carried them north where on a Cape Code beach our other love interest played by Robin digs the bottle out of the sand.

She's a divorced single mom. They are both in the late thirties or early forties. She's captivated by the love notes and begins a search for the mysterious lover. Since she's a researcher at the Chicago Tribune (convenience) she tracks him down, visits and falls in love all over again.

He's not so sure because he hasn't let go of his wife. That's the battle. He has to let go of the past and move on to this present situation and he does until he finds out what brought them together. They had a good thing going until he finds the bottles and messages and newspaper coverage and leaves her. They had to split and do.

His transformation is shown with a boat he started working on with his late wife, but stopped building with her death. With someone new in his life, he gets back to building it and launching it and sets sail for Chicago (it's possible), but tragedy strikes and we have a lame, "heroic" ending.

The ending is such a downer, it destroys our sense of hope. This was supposed to be a Hollywood film, but I guess they filmmakers weren't aware of Hollywood endings. I'm not for or against Hollywood endings, but the ending must fit the story and in this instance our hero dives from his sailboat during a raging storm in the Atlantic, in winter. It's a crazy thing to do and he does it for no reason. There is no reason he should dive into the water.

I also found a great of the dialogue between the two, especially early on, to be adolescent. It was as if they were bashful, thirteen-year olds at a school dance in the gym. Not what you'd expect for adult romance.

And from the hard to believe folder, it's hard to believe this film is ten years old. And more incredible that Paul Newman is gone. We knew it would come, but, well, he is one of my favourite film stars. Cary Grant ranks number one and Newman is probably number two.

Posted 2009/02/08 at 20h01ET in Movie Commentary.


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